E-waste 2009

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The past two decades have witnessed an increased momentum in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the Arab region.  While this momentum has contributed to increased socio-economic development in many Arab countries, the growing quantity of electronic waste[1] (E-waste) has raised uncomfortable signals.

 Several E-waste components are considered to pose serious environmental and health hazards, such as lead and cadmium found in circuit boards; lead oxide and cadmium in monitor cathode ray tubes; mercury in switches and flat screen monitors, and cadmium in computer batteries. In the absence of suitable techniques and protective measures, improper handling of E-waste can result in toxic emissions to the air, water and soil and pose a significant health and environmental hazard. Clearly, the need to build capacities for the proper and safe handling methods for E-waste is urgently required.

 Currently e-waste recycling efforts, particularly in the Arab region, have mostly been limited to random and small scale initiatives. Safe and effective management of E-waste thus remains an untapped opportunity, requiring collaborative and concerted capacity building efforts.

 Understandably, implementation of proper and safe management for E-waste in the Arab countries can indeed reap direct benefits, particularly to local communities through increased job creation (E-waste recycling provides opportunities for people that have difficult access to formal employment), lower health risks, and environmental protection.

It is envisioned that the implementation of the E-waste management programme in the Arab region will be executed through Public-Private Partnerships, in cooperation with other entities, particularly the Non-Governmental organizations (NGO) community. The private sector will be the main beneficiary for recycled E-waste components; and NGOs may coordinate training and increase awareness on proper management and recycling of E-waste in local communities. Governmental institutions can support this initiative by providing the necessary regulatory framework and a conducive atmosphere for effective E-waste management.

 Worldwide, many promising best practices in managing E-waste have been attained. Sharing and disseminating these successful practices could play a significant role in providing support to countries in the Arab World, towards the achievement of national E-waste management and information society initiatives.




[1] E-waste is a generic term encompassing various forms of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) which are old, end-of-life electronic appliances and which have ceased to be of any value to their owners.

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