StEP offers new insight on global regulatory environment

StEP offers new insight on global regulatory environment

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

A trio of reports covering the international flow of electronic scrap have been released by the United Nations University's Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) initiative, and specifically address the changing regulatory landscape in China and Africa.

Solving the E-waste Problem Green Paper: Transboundary Movements of Discarded Electrical and Electronic Equipment builds on existing research to present a broad overview of the current trade of e-scrap internationally. The report provides an overview of key international, regional and national regulations and identifies loopholes that enable the gray market trade of electronic scrap, as well as makes recommendations on how to close those loopholes.

E-Waste in China: A country report outlines the extent of the impact of discarded e-scrap and WEEE in China, pointing to surging domestic generation of end-of-life electronics as well as a persistent e-scrap import issue as major challenges driving regulatory changes in the country. To deal with this growing domestic generation, as well as crack down on unregulated processing, the report authors identified five major legislative and regulatory developments in China, including a ban on imports of end-of-life electronics; best-practices principles for domestic processors; restrictions on hazardous materials usage in new product manufacturing; formal licensing of processors; and the establishment of a national collection system. That collection system, along with relevant stakeholders in the Chinese e-scrap industry, are also identified.

Halfway around the world, E-Waste Country Study in Ethiopia was conducted for StEP by Oko-Institute and PAN-Ethiopia. The study compares the e-scrap import and domestic generation mix, and identifies characteristics of the urban-rural split in WEEE processing and stockpiling. Surprisingly, the study concluded that compared to other African countries, e-scrap is not a major source of pollution in Ethiopia, but did identify looming problems on the horizon as more electronic goods and appliances are sold into the East African nation. The report provides an interesting contrast to the environmental and regulatory policies in place in other African countries and recommends the adoption of a national e-scrap strategy for Ethiopia.

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