Griffith earmarked for UN e-waste hub

Friday, 23 May, 2008

Queensland's Griffith University has been approached by the United Nations research arm for managing electronic waste to create an Asia–Pacific hub dedicated to reducing the 40 million tonnes of e-waste produced each year worldwide.

The UN's Solving The E-Waste Problem (StEP) Asia–Pacific hub initiative will be led by Griffith E-waste Research Group head Dr Sunil Herat, who is currently researching the sustainable management of electronic waste.

"Solving the E-Waste Problem is advanced in Europe and the US, but has not had a large presence here, which is ironic as most of the manufacture and disposal of consumer electronics takes place in the Asia–Pacific," Herat said.

“Developed countries are the biggest designers and consumers of technology but the manufacturing, and therefore the waste disposal, often takes place out of sight, out of mind in developing countries.

“UN figures show only a small minority of the world’s population is covered by any regional e-waste policy measures. As a result, waste that is not stored and processed adequately results in toxic emissions from burning, soil and water contamination from pollutants such as mercury, lead and cadmium leaching, and the inefficient recovery of valuable recyclable materials."

The program consists of five key taskforces:

  • ReDesign to investigate design to streamline re-use, repair, refurbishment and recycling;
  • ReCycle to enhance global recycling infrastructure;
  • ReUse to develop replicable and sustainable global reuse system;
  • Policy and legislation;
  • Capacity Building to target education, awareness raising and partner recruitment.

One of Herat’s responsibilities will be to lead the capacity building taskforce in the region to boost the number of governments, companies and NGOs taking part, and help facilitate a regional e-waste summit.

“Universities have a unique role in building e-waste minimisation into formal education for engineers and IT professionals, and leading collaborative research projects with published results that will inform both the science and the legal and regulatory debate," Herat said.


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