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Global impacts of the e-waste problem

: Deubzer, O.; Griese, H.; Reich, H.

Union of EcoDesigners Japan:
5th International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing 2007. Proceedings. CD-ROM : December 10 - 13, 2007, Tokyo
Tokyo: MCS Center, 2007
International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing (EcoDesign) <5, 2007, Tokyo>
Fraunhofer IZM ()

WEEE (waste of electrical and electronic equipment) creates environmental problems not only in developing and emerging market countries, but also in Europe. The still low collection rates as well as illegal exports out of Europe cloud the environmental performance despite of a high performing recycling infrastructure. Legislation and model projects in Europe may increase the WEEE collection rate. In developing and emerging market countries, technologically inefficient processing conditions at minimum or no occupational health measures additionally to low collection rates cause resource losses and enormous environmental problems, and they damage the worker's and the local people's health. Technically, besides miniaturization, currently and in the foreseeable future alternatives are not available to avoid the use of noble metals and other metals, which drive the environmental impacts from WEEE. The control of exports of WEEE out of Europe seems to be lax abeting illegal exports into countries with insufficient technological and social standards. Cooperations of emerging market countries with industrialized countries via toll refining models could solve at least part of the problems for mutual benefit. The installation of European standard recycling technology in emerging market countries might as well be a viable option. New national and international approaches for international cooperation are hence required to solve, or at least to mitigate the global adverse impacts of WEEE and to turn it into a source of raw materials instead.