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Africa will not be Europe's digital dumping ground, say leaders
countries demand tougher laws to end influx of electronic waste amid renewed
concerns over toxic components.
countries have demanded action to stem the import of electronic waste,
including old computers and mobile telephones from Europe, where stringent
environmental laws make exporting used goods cheaper than disposing of them at
document released this week, African countries that adopted an international
convention on hazardous waste called for uniform action to end the import of
discarded electronic goods containing dangerous components. In some cases, the
products are sent as donations for re-use, even though they are no longer
response to the trade in e-waste, the EU took steps in 2012 to strengthen its
export laws to prevent the dumping of electronic goods in Africa.
update to the 2003 waste from electrical and electronic equipment (Weee)
directive followed hard-fought bargaining over how to improve the recovery of
computers and other electronic and electrical waste, much of which was either
dumped in landfills or shipped abroad for disposal because of the high cost of
recycling in Europe.
signatories to the Bamako convention on the export of hazardous waste to Africa
met in the Malian capital for the first time since the international agreement
was formed in 1991.
final declarations, released on Tuesday, the African representatives called for
enforcement of the convention and for tougher national laws.
Bamako meeting marked "the first time African parties have by themselves
called for rigorous action to prevent e-waste dumping", noted the Basel
Action Network, which campaigns against the trade in toxic waste.
revamped Weee law :Under the
Weee legislation, EU countries will have to recover 45 tonnes of e-waste for
every 100 tonnes of electronic goods sold by 2016, rising to 65% of sales by
2019 â€“ or 85% of all e-waste generated. Newer member countries get an extension
approving the rules on 7 June 2012, the EU council expanded the directive to
include solar panels, fluorescent lighting containing mercury, and equipment
containing ozone-depleting substances. EU countries have until 14 February 2014
to adopt the directive into their national laws.
one-third of such items are recycled at home, researchers say; the bulk goes
into landfills. But thousands of tonnes of electronic goods are exported
because secondhand computer components and recycled metals are lucrative
commodities for poorer countries.
The new Weee
directive requires national governments to provide information on where goods
can be recycled, including in-store facilities for smaller electronic goods
such as mobile telephones. It also calls on national governments to more
rigorously enforce exports of e-waste.
environment programme's 2012 report, Where are Weee in Africa, says about
220,000 tonnes of electrical and electronic goods were shipped from the EU to
west Africa in 2009.
30% of imports of allegedly secondhand products were useless, despite EU
efforts calling for electronic goods to have some reusable value. Overall, the
UN report shows that about 85% of containers arriving in Ghana with electrical
and electronic goods came from Europe, with 4% from Asia.
say illicit waste is typically hidden in containers carrying legitimate cargo
to thwart customs inspections. The UN environment programme has called for
better controls in Africa, where the homegrown e-waste problem is also growing.
related waste export matter, the EU is moving to end the practice of
"beaching" old ships in foreign countries.
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