Life-Cycle Solutions to E-waste

Life-cycle solutions to e-waste includes promoting the understanding of end-of-life consumer electronics, such as mobile telephones, and how the choices we make as consumers impact the environment, natural resources and vulnerable communities.

Among those most impacted are people living near waste dumps or engaged in informal ("backyard") recovery of valuable materials, endangered species vulnerable to mining operations (e.g. in the Congo basin), and sensitive populations exposed to dioxins, furans and other persistent organic pollutants created through improper waste management practices.

Unsustainable practices, such as open-pit burning or export of waste mislabeled as used electrical and electronic equipment, should cease. 

"Effective management of the growing amount of e-waste generated in Africa and other parts of the world is an important part of the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy," says United Nations Environment Programme and UN Under-Secretary General Achim Steiner.

The Parties to the Basel Convention have established the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) as a multistakeholder partnership that provides a forum for governments, industry leaders, non-governmental organizations and academia to tackle the environmentally sound management of end-of-life computing equipment.

The Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative has developed guidelines on environmentally sound management of end-of-life mobile phones, including guidance on used mobile phones collection, refurbishment and recycling. 

The E-waste Africa programme serves to enhance the environmental governance of e-wastes and to create favorable social and economic conditions for partnerships and small businesses in the recycling sector in Africa. The programme’s major products include the publication,  Where are WEEE in Africa? Findings from the Basel Convention E-waste Africa Programme, and the Pan-African Forum on E-waste.

The Call for Action on E-waste in Africa was adopted by the Pan-African Forum on 16 March 2012.

The Secretariat helped launch the project "We Help Gorillas" to promote consumer recycling of mobile phones to raise awareness of the threats to gorilla populations living in African’s Congo Basin, involving 39 zoos and other agencies in the Czech Republic, in 2010.

Mobile Phones and the Environment

Photographic exhibition, 2 to 14 December 2013 at Palais des Nations, Geneva