E-waste: what’s it to you?

The fridge where you stored mom’s casserole.

The TV where you watched the finale of your favourite series.

The smartphone you used to take a video of your pet messing around.

These and so many more electrical and electronic devices have become integral parts of our daily routines. Over the course of many years, we invest money and time in them, but what do we do when they no longer work?

If you just throw them away, know that you are contributing to the massive issue of e-waste pollution, which has dire effects on people and the Earth’s ecosystems.

Much of e-waste contains toxic materials, such as mercury or lead, which permeate in the environment. In addition, more often than not, it is being processed informally, placing people’s lives in immediate danger.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the world’s leading multilateral environmental agreement that tackles the e-waste problem. In June 2022, the Basel Convention announced its decision to enforce the E-waste Amendments, which will legally bind the Convention’s 190 Parties to minimise the generation of e-waste, strictly control its transboundary movement, and ensure its environmentally sound management.

In anticipation of the entry into force of the E-waste Amendments in 2025, we would like to hear from you why electrical and electronic devices should be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Using no more than 300 words in English, share with us a story focused on the life cycle of an electric or electronical device that you have owned. Explain to us why it has been special to you, and what became of it when it was no longer working.

The top three stories will be announced in December 2022 and will be adapted into animated videos premiering during the 11th meeting of the Parties to the Basel Convention (Basel COP11), which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2023.

Send us your stories to mea-brs-communications@un.org by 14 November 2022, 15:00 CEST.

Need inspiration? Check out an example below:

My first laptop was a monster of a machine. It weighted as much as the dumbbells I used in aerobics but that didn’t stop me from carrying it with me everywhere I went. It was my companion at school, on vacation, even at my neighbourhood café where I used it to show off how cool I was… Noisy and super-hot, it would turn my legs red when I put it on my lap for a long time. But I just blamed myself for not being tough enough, never the laptop. In fact, the laptop never died. It just became obsolete, as time went by and devices with much larger RAM and ROM came out on the market. I never got rid of it. Sometimes I wonder in which part of the attic it could be…