The third annual International E-Waste Day, held on 14th October, has been the most widely publicised yet. The event, to promote the proper management of electrical and electronic equipment, brought together e-waste stakeholders across the world to promote the correct disposal of electrical and electronic equipment to enable reuse, refurbishment and recycling.
The WEEE Forum, an international association of e-waste collection schemes, reported that 127 organisations from 51 countries across 6 different continents registered as participants, with many more entities marking the day with activities, news reports and online campaigns. Collectively, these organisations made the reach of the International E-Waste Day far wider than it was in the previous two editions combined and, amidst the growing concern over the e-waste volumes and treatment, raised the profile of the issue even further.
To mark the day, the WEEE Forum itself was involved in the production of a report, in partnership with the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, highlighting the infrastructure behind our connected devices. It also produced a video with children from all over the world urging people to treat their e-waste properly. Elsewhere, the Basel Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UNIDO, UNITAR, and UN Habitat held webinars on the day, there were conferences in, amongst other places, Ireland and India, e-waste collections in numerous countries, as well as TV and radio appearances and high level promotion on social media and coverage in the press, including an article on the influential Forbes website.
Commenting on the importance of International E-Waste Day 2020, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said “getting e-waste management and processing right is an excellent way of decreasing mining of raw materials, lower emission and boost local growth and jobs”. He added “most people don’t know about this, but 80% of the energy used by a smartphone over its life cycle happens before it reaches the consumer, so we need to make electronic devices last longer, make them more durable and easier to repair.”
Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, explained, “We are once again tremendously pleased with how International E-Waste Day was promoted across the world by the producer responsibility organisations in the WEEE Forum, prominent global entities, such as those connected with the United Nations, and other registered organisations. But it was particularly noticeable this year that influential organisations and individuals, some with many millions of social media followers, independently picked up on the event and used it to send persuasive messages.” He continued, “E-waste is a fast increasing waste stream and one that requires careful management to ensure that its hazardous parts are treated effectively, but also that the rare and critical raw materials it contains can be recovered and used again in producing new items. It is essential that the message gets across to consumers.”