Overview

Electrical and electronic equipment when becoming waste (e-waste) such as personal computers, printers, televisions, mobile phones, refrigerators and air-conditioning units is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world today.

E-waste is categorized as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants are considered as hazardous waste according to the Basel Convention. E-waste may also contain precious metals such as gold, copper and nickel and rare materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium. These precious and heavy metals could be recovered, recycled and used as valuable source of secondary raw materials. It has been documented that e-wastes are shipped to developing countries where it is often not managed in an environmentally sound manner, thus posing a serious threat to both human health and the environment.

The Basel Convention started to address e-waste issues since 2002 which include, among others, environmentally sound management; prevention of illegal traffic to developing countries and; building capacity around the globe to better manage e-waste. The Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative (MPPI) was adopted by the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention.

The Nairobi Declaration on the Environmentally Sound Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste and decision IX/6 adopted by the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) gave a mandate to the Secretariat to implement a work plan for the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

The e-waste work plan adopted by COP9 included activities in the following work areas: