Patti Whiting, senior international policy analyst for Sims Recycling Solutions’ original equipment (OEM) compliance team, participated in an Asia and Pacific E-Waste Stakeholder’s meeting, and back-to-back meetings of the Basel Convention’s Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) and the Expert Working Group on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) in Jakarta, Indonesia from May 27-31, 2014. A summary of proceedings of all three meetings is below.
E-Waste Stakeholder’s Meeting
The week was launched with a day-long Asia and Pacific E-Waste Stakeholder’s meeting. This meeting included presentations by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and the Basel Convention Regional Centre (BCRC) for Asia and Pacific (based in Beijing, China) regarding e-waste management in Indonesia, Asia and Pacific, and electronic waste recyclers in Indonesia.
The PACE is a multi-stakeholder, public-private partnership established under the auspices of the Basel Convention in 2009 to provide a forum for governments of member countries that implement the Convention as well as industry, leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia to collaborate and promote the environmentally sound management (ESM) of the refurbishment, recycling and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment.
This was the seventh physical meeting of the Basel PACE. The Basel physical meetings are held every 6-9 months and hosted by a PACE member country. The physical meetings afford the members of each of the six working groups (referenced below) the opportunity to meet in person, report on progress and make decisions on projects. All other meetings are held via teleconference. Prior physical meetings have been held in Geneva, Switzerland; Bonn, Germany; Beijing, China; Washington D.C.; San Salvador, El Salvador; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The PACE is co-chaired by Marco Buletti from the Swiss Ministry of Environment and Oladele Osobanjo, the director of the Nigerian Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Centre (BCRC) representing West Africa.
During this meeting each working group reported on progress to-date and made decisions on future work. The two working groups addressing the ESM of recycling and recovery (co-chaired by Renee St. Denis, vice president of Sims Recycling Solutions) and the environmentally sound testing, refurbishment and repair of used computing equipment met and discussed the progress on interim guidelines that will serve as a bridge for countries to meet the requirements of the recently adopted PACE ESM technical guidelines. The working group developing and implementing pilot projects (focused on the collection and management of end-of-life computing equipment) received a status report on ongoing pilots in Jordan and Serbia, and prepared to launch a pilot project in Burkina Faso. This group additionally provisionally selected pilot projects to be conducted by the BCRCs in Central America, Caribbean and Eastern European regions. Progress to-date was also discussed with regards to the working groups on awareness raising and training; strategies, actions and incentives to promote ESM (private sector focused) and trans-boundary movement.
Finally, the PACE spent a great deal of time brain-storming its future role as many of its mandates have been completed. There is a universal agreement among the participants that the PACE has evolved into an invaluable network of experts comprising a “think tank” of valuable knowledge and expertise that can be tapped by developing countries as they continue to grapple with the management of used and end-of-life computing equipment.
Expert Working Group Meeting on ESM
Established in 2013, this working group is a product of the Basel Convention’s Country-Led Initiative (CLI) which determined that despite a significant body of historical work to promote the ESM of hazardous waste, instances of mismanagement continue to occur.
Co-chaired by Dr. Andreas Jaron of the German Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Mr. Alberto Santos Capra of the Argentinian MOE, the CLI ESM Working Group is tasked with developing multidisciplinary mechanisms to promote the ESM of hazardous and other wastes pursuant to the Basel Convention. The CLI ESM Working Group took a view toward practically defining and outlining what needs to be in place to ensure that developing countries have the information and tools necessary to ensure that the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste will result in ESM.
At this second meeting of the ESM Expert group, the members broke up into small groups and reviewed the practical manuals that were developed addressing terminology; principles, general rules and legislation (co-chaired by Whiting and Dr. Leila Devia of the Argentinian Ministry of Environment and Director of the BCRC for South America); licensing and permits; safety, insurance and liability; and certification schemes and prevention.
The group also reviewed two waste stream fact sheets that covered medical/healthcare waste and used lead-acid batteries. The group also discussed several pilot projects that were approved at the first meeting of the ESM Expert group to demonstrate and implement ESM. In particular, the group discussed a project focused on assessing if notifications, consents, inspections, enforcement of trans-boundary movement of waste and take-back procedures for illegal traffic represent ESM.
This project, funded by the government of Switzerland, is being executed in Egypt, Madagascar and Tanzania. Finally, the group discussed progress on a document that is being developed to address private sector incentives for ESM. The group discussed ideas for streamlining the work program which in addition to including the waste stream fact sheets, practical manuals, pilot projects and material on private sector incentives includes the development of training tools and information material assessment.
On a Personal Note
Sims Recycling Solutions’ involvement in the Basel Convention’s PACE and Expert Working Group on ESM provides the opportunity to interface with global experts from all paradigms – governments, international organizations, academia, NGOs and the private sector – representing a range of disciplines – environmental, social and technical – and enhance our knowledge not only of the issues surrounding the ESM of used and end-of-life electronics and waste management in general, but also of the people and cultures where we do business. We wish to acknowledge Mr. Ridwan D. Tamin, Director, BCRC for South-East Asia; Ms. Cynthia Indriani, Executive Secretary, BCRC for South-East Asia; and their respective staff members for organizing the meeting and sharing the great culture and food of the Indonesian people. We also wish to thank the Secretariat of the Basel Convention for their tireless support of these meetings.