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International activities on E-waste and guidelines for future work

TitleInternational activities on E-waste and guidelines for future work
Publication TypeProceedings Article
Year of Conference2005
AuthorsWilliams E
Conference NameProceedings of The Third Workshop on Material Cycles and Waste Management in Asia
PublisherNational Institute of Environmental Sciences
Conference LocationTsukuba, Japan
Keywordse-waste, environmental impacts, materials flows, research needs
AbstractThe status of knowledge of e-waste issues is surveyed from an international perspective. Existingestimations of domestic generation and international flows of e-waste are reviewed. While initialestimates suggest that there is a substantial and increasing mass of waste to be handled, analysisis clearly in its infancy. The status of international research on green electronics and e-waste isalso surveyed. Thus far work has focused more on issues relevant to the developed world, inparticular manufacturers. Surprisingly, there is a significant lack of risk assessments addressingleaching of heavy metals from electronics from landfills, despite the fact that this concern hasbeen a major driver of legislative activity around the world to curb the use of landfills as an endof-life option. NGOs have spearheaded research into the e-waste problem in developingcountries, with response emerging from research communities in Europe and Japan. Also, thecontext for developing future research activities to solve the e-waste problem is discussed. Onekey issue is the multi-criteria nature of the challenge : it is desirable to maximize reuse ofequipment and economic development while minimizing environmental burdens and economiccosts. Multi-stakeholder aspects are also important: the issue is politically contentious, bothwithin and between nations. It is argued that, to the extent possible, effective research requirescollaboration between different regions and societal sectors, and debate on solutions should berigorous and take place in a neutral arena.
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