During the month of March, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) convened over 30 representatives of 13 Latin American countries and international experts to their second convention entitled: Regional Co-operation on E-waste Management in Latin American Countries. Participating countries included: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The Expert Meeting kicked off on March 18, Global Recycling day, and consisted of Project Steering and Technical Committee meetings as well as a series of presentations by UN partner organizations and local recycling companies.
GEEP (Global Electric Electronic Processing) was invited to present its operation as a prime e-waste facility example, as its introduction to the Costa Rican and Central American market in 2008 has led it to become the fundamental basis for the Costa Rican authorities to achieve approval of Waste Management Law; this includes the subject of WEEE in said country in 2010 and today many countries in the region intend to assimilate and implement similar versions within their own borders.
At the convention, attendees were able to learn and share their experiences on the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), from health and environmental impacts to the design of policies and management systems. On Wednesday, March 20th, a hands-on workshop was held for electronic device disarmament with technical assistance from GEEP representatives, who provided personal safety equipment for attendees and explained the hazards associated with involved processes.
On Thursday, March 21, convention attendees had the opportunity to visit GEEP’s facility located within the city of Cartago. During this visit, GEEP explained its local mission and 10 years of operation within Costa Rica, as well as its corporate role which has internationally existed for over 20 years. The company provided suggestions and recommendations to the existing legal framework and ideas to improve the current management of the recycling market within the region. This feedback in turn would help to promote greater competitiveness among e-waste management companies to achieve greater traceability of their waste, which would be reflected in better services for producers, importers, marketers and consumers of WEEE.
GEEP also provided a guided tour to all attendees to showcase its operational practices, to explain processes and their associated hazards, as well as teaching the security measures practiced to handle, store and transport e-waste.
Currently, the world produces approximately 50 million tons of e-waste per year – which is the equivalent to the total weight of all commercial airliners ever made. This figure is predicted to rise to 120m tons by 2050.
UNIDO has collaborated with a large number of organizations on this project, including: national governments and organizations, local e-waste recyclers, SC and BC regional centers, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as various other partners, such as RELAC and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).