Working Group 3

Closing e-waste cycles

Our ever-increasing consumption of electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones and refrigerators has made electronic waste the world’s fastest growing waste stream. In 2016 alone, 44.7 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE or E-waste) were produced, of which only 20% was collected and recycled through official recycling channels. E-waste contains many potentially dangerous substances as well as valuable metals, however, many countries do not have suitable recycling facilities to safely and sustainably recycle this new waste stream. Instead workers in the informal waste sector often make their living from extracting valuable parts from the waste, often by repairing, dismantling and recycling e-waste using simple methods such as burning cables. This causes serious damage to the environment, workers health and local communities. Whilst informal waste collection tends to be rather effective, informal recycling techniques tend to be inefficient also leading to a loss of important resources and precious metals.

Develop pilot solutions to recycle the most polluting e-waste fractions. Improve labour standards in the (informal) recycling sector, include informal workers in formal recycling systems. Contribute to the implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) concepts.


These are the tasks that the E-Waste Working Group of the PREVENT Waste Alliance aims to tackle, focusing on the development of take-back and recycling systems for waste of electrical and electronic equipment in low and middle-income countries.

Objectives of the working group

We aim to find pilot solutions, which can be applied worldwide and support local partners on the ground.
We aim to create better working conditions for workers in the recycling sector.
We aim to protect the environment from harmful e-waste recycling activities.
We aim to promote the market uptake and re-use of secondary raw materials from electrical and electronic waste.
We aim to increase the re-use, refurbishment and repair of used electronic devices.

Assignments

In collaboration with local partners, new business models can be developed to improve the local e-waste management system. For this, often a long-term financing model may be needed, which may require supporting local legislation. This activity looks to support the set-up of take-back systems, which can function in the long term, with a primary focus on the improvement of income and occupational safety, protection of the environment, the creation of jobs and the development of self-sustaining, long-term local businesses.

In several countries there are no developed downstream solutions for lithium-ion batteries and e-waste plastics. Both fractions commonly accumulate at e-waste recyclers and solutions require access to downstream markets, as well as know-how and logistical efforts for sorting, storage and shipment. This activity looks at trialing solutions for improving the access to international markets, or improving local off-taker markets to improve the financial feasibility of dealing with these fractions for local recyclers, at the same time increasing uptake of secondary resources from e-waste into new production.

If electronics are used for longer, less e-waste is generated. Low and middle income countries are already the masters of repair and refurbishment, however this activity looks at how the circularity of local economies can be further enhanced. We do this by promoting the prevention of electronic waste generation by strengthening the reuse, repair and refurbishment of old electrical and electronic devices in partner countries.

Leads & Contact

	
	

Daniel Hinchliffe
Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

+49 (0)6196 797283
daniel.hinchliffe@giz.de

to be defined

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