It can be hard to imagine a technology-driven world without the use of electronic products like smartphones, PCs, TV sets, fax machines, refrigerators, and the likes. It is a common knowledge that all those items have a prescribed lifespan.
When an electronic product or appliance wears out and cease to operate, it automatically becomes an electronic waste or e-waste. Inside those items are motherboards and machines that comprise of toxic metals and elements like cadmium, beryllium, lead and mercury, to name a few. If not properly disposed, e-wastes can pose imminent danger not just to the public’s health but more so to the global environment.
Every year, it is estimated that about 50 million tonnes of e-wastes are produced worldwide. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor report of the United Nations University in 2017, only around a fifth or 20 percent of overall global e-wastes are properly accounted for. About 76 percent of those are likely to be recycled, stored in homes, or worse, incinerated. Around 4 percent is thrown into landfills.
E-waste disposal in UAE
In the UAE, which is among the most active in terms of implementing proper disposal of e-waste procedures in the Middle Eastern region, a federal law was enacted in May 2018 for the integration of waste management for both hazardous and non-hazardous forms of waste.
In 2019, the country’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment collaborated with the private sector to inaugurate the biggest treatment facilities for e-waste in the region. The Recycling Hub is capable of processing up to 39,000 tonnes of e-waste annually—39% of the total 100,000 tonnes of overall waste the facility can process—using a reclamation technology that even surpasses e-waste standards of the European Union.
Furthermore, the UAE government has already been utilizing an Integrated Waste Management System that is aimed at diverting up to 75 percent of total solid waste in the country from local landfills by 2021, an initiative that is part of the UAE Vision 2021.
E-waste disposal recommendations
With proper e-waste management practices already in place as initiated by the UAE government, there is an apparent need to increase the level of awareness among its citizens. Ensuring the active participation of the public and private sectors down to the consumer level will be crucial in achieving desired outcomes.
One particular aspect of awareness to be continuously aimed at is the systematic collection of e-waste from consumers. Currently, each city and municipality throughout the country has its own measures of collecting such items from the public.
The private sector can also further push for e-waste recycling campaigns that have already been rolled out in the initial phases of proper e-waste disposal measures in UAE. However, this effort should be properly coordinated with the appropriate government agency or waste management processor as there are e-wastes that could only be properly handled through expert waste management systems. Overall, the country is in the right track in its path to curb e-waste and help save the planet.