2009-09-16 - E-WASTE; Scrap rules urged by U.N.-backed alliance
Source: Reuters (Alister Doyle)
The world needs tighter rules to keep electronic waste from piling up in developing nations, a U.N.-backed alliance said yesterday.
Recycling would do more than save energy and conserve virgin materials -- it could potentially mean lots of money for recycling companies. A metric ton of old mobile phones contains silver, gold, palladium and copper with a combined value of more than $15,000 at today's prices, according to Solving the E-waste Problem, or StEP.
"A lot of equipment simply ends up dumped" in poor nations, said Ruediger Kuehr, head of the secretariat of StEP, which is backed by U.N. agencies and companies such as Microsoft and Nokia.
"Processes and policies governing the re-use and recycling of electronic products need to be standardized worldwide to stem and reverse the growing problem of illegal and harmful e-waste," a StEP statement said.
Electric items like computers and televisions are often illegally shipped overseas to developing countries, where many are incinerated for scraps. The process is cheap and lucrative but releases toxins like heavy metals and dioxins into the environment