Tackling E-waste

The problem of how to mitigate and clean up e-waste is top of mind for many researchers and policy-makers. A new infographic helps to put the problem into perspective, as do reports of some recent discussions about e-waste governance in the EU and the announcement of e-waste related research efforts in the US.

Amsterdam Canal View
EU delegates met in beautiful Amsterdam last week to discuss e-waste initiatives.

In Amsterdam last week, participants at an international e-waste conference concluded that a higher e-waste collection objective that is to be met by 2021 was “unfeasible.” A United Nations University (UNU) announcement stated that, “The forthcoming EU collection objective for discarded electrical equipment and energy saving lamps (e-waste) is only achievable if governments are prepared to introduce additional measures.”

According to the UNU, part of the challenge of meeting the EU quota for e-waste collection is that the waste will be outside the mandated collectors’ reach due to legal or illicit exportation. In addition, much of the waste is simply thrown into the trash by consumers.

In related news, researchers at the University of Florida are searching for ways to help keep e-waste from overtaking landfills. Their focus? A material they expect may have a growing impact on the manufacture of electronic goods: carbon nanotubes.

“Depending on how the nanotubes are used, they can be toxic – exhibiting properties similar to asbestos in laboratory mice. It’s an emerging technology. We want to get ahead of it and make sure that the progress is sustainable — in terms of the environment and human health.”

— Jean-Claude Bonzongo, associate professor of environmental engineering, College of Engineering, University of Florida

And from the world of arts and culture, CNN reported recently about how six artists from around the world are transforming e-waste into works of art and why they feel their efforts matter.

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© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


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