Skip to main content

Electronic Waste (e-Waste)

Threat and opportunity

The Challenge: e-Waste is a Ticking Time Bomb

Today, the amount of e-waste is rapidly growing in developing countries as they join the global information society. At present electronic appliances are rarely disposed of in an adequate manner and there is little regulation in place, creating hazards for local populations, as well as for the environment. While the environmental services industry has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, it is largely absent in developing countries. This is both a missed business opportunity and a threat since the electronic waste contained in used computers consists of high-value components such as copper and gold, but also highly toxic substances such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

Our Approach: Address the full lifecycle of ICT Equipment

Once electronic appliances reach the end of their lifetime, they need to be properly dismantled and recycled. The e-waste initiative aims at addressing the full lifecycle of ICT equipment by properly dismantling and recycling it once the equipment has become obsolete. An e-waste dismantling facility will be piloted in Uganda and Tanzania.

The objective of UNIDO’s programme is to foster the development of an environmentally sound e-waste recycling industry in developing countries. With the active support of UNIDO’s 35 National Cleaner Production Centres, we focus on:

  • Promoting an environmental service industry in developing countries
  • Preparing national e-waste assessment reports
  • Establishing partnerships with national and international institutions from the public and private sector
  • Facilitating the establishment of local and regional e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities

The refurbished computer and e-waste model is being piloted in Uganda and best practices will be replicated across the region. The ultimate goal is to provide SMEs with access to affordable quality hardware in Africa, and to build a “green” recycling industry in the countries.

Some 160 million computers and 550 million mobile phones are expected to reach the end of their life in 2007. Many will end up in dumps.