‘Tsunami’ of e-waste rolling out over the world

Annually, one million people die from occupational poisoning, says UNEP chief

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Tuesday 07 July 2015 | 11:29:23 AM

UNEP Photo

The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Tuesday stressed the need to limit the use of dangerous chemicals and electronic waste. He said this at a Conference of Parties to three major Conventions on the subject being held in Geneva.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said the “tsunami of e-waste rolling out over the world” accounts for a large portion of the world’s non-recyclable “waste mountain” and needs to be dealt with immediately.  “Never mind that it is also an economic stupidity because we are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially re-useable,” Steiner told journalists at the convention.

He said that the amount of some materials found in unused electronics exceeds the amount still in the ground and he looked to the potential of the Basel Convention to help access “urban mines” by working to better inform people of how to dispose of their e-waste.

He pointed out how materials used in production of various items are extremely poisonous. “Annually, one million people die from occupational poisoning,” Steiner said. “This is something that is, in this day and age, not only unnecessary it’s really intolerable. And this is why the sound management of chemicals is something that has brought governments, civil society but also the private sector and the chemical industry together.”

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