Rome: Governments Urged to control E-Wastes

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WJA reporter
September 10, 2011

The first Green Standards Week organized by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) closed Friday with a call on international bodies, NGOs, standards bodies, governments, regulators, industry and academia to collaborate more closely on the application and development of information and communication technologies (ICT) standards to help combat climate change.

Particular emphasis was placed on a globalized methodology to assess the environmental impact of ICTs, reducing e-waste, and the use of submarine cables for climate monitoring and disaster warning.

Experts say e-waste is the fastest-growing component of the municipal waste stream worldwide.

Recycling old electronics such as these phones keeps toxic components from contaminating the environment

ITU has been working with industry and government members aiming to achieve agreement on an
internationally recognized set of methodologies to be approved by the end of the year. Included is a methodology which ICT companies can use to measure their own carbon footprint, as well as a way to estimate the considerable savings in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy that can be achieved in other sectors through the use of ICTs.

A single global methodology will give credibility to the various claims currently being made about the benefits of ICTs in addressing climate change and energy issues.

ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré: “By adopting globally agreed standards – green standards – we will help to create a smarter, greener, planet; a planet which will be full of opportunity and potential and which will help the next generation reap tremendous rewards.”

Most of the people using these old devices might not know the dangers they pose to their health and environment.

The increase in e-waste generated by the expanding use of ICT, and the decreasing life span of equipment, was highlighted by participants as an area of great concern, as was the export of e-waste to developing countries.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB): “Production of ICT equipment must minimize the use of toxic material, and be designed to have a longer life span.

Standardization is important in achieving this. ITU’s universal charger is an excellent example of what can be achieved with international cooperation. E-waste that cannot be avoided must be recycled in an environmentally sound manner to extract valuable secondary raw materials.”

ITU is working with its membership and others including United Nations University, UNEP, the Basel Convention, CEDARE and StEP on this issue.

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