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UNIS/OUS/392
20 March 2018

UNIDO, the Government of Ecuador and the Global Environment Facility to tackle e-waste in Latin America

VIENNA/QUITO, 19 March 2018 (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) -- Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), also known as e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It is expected to reach 52.2 million metric tons by 2021, which is equivalent to the weight of more than 29 million passenger cars.

The increasing amount of e-waste poses an environmental and health threat to the global population. Electrical and electronic devices contain highly toxic and even carcinogenic substances known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are resistant to environmental degradation, are also bio-accumulative and can be dispersed over long distances.

Today, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador and with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is launching a programme involving 13 countries in Latin America to address interregional challenges with a circular economy approach to the proper recycling and disposal of e-waste.

The project, called "Strengthening of National Initiatives and Enhancement of Regional Cooperation for the Environmentally Sound Management of POPs in Waste of Electrical or Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in Latin American Countries", will be implemented in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

During the opening session, Klaus Tyrkko, UNIDO´s Chief of the Stockholm Convention Division, highlighted the importance of the regional approach. "We are happy to support inclusive and sustainable industrial development in all our Member States, but it is also important to find coherence among policies for regional trade and business to thrive. This project aims to create a community of experts and institutions who can support each other while working in the national context," he said.

The project will assist the 13 participating countries both technically and financially, as well as raise awareness and provide advice on policies, business, legislation and technology. At the national level, it will help strengthen policies and train technicians and public officials, and develop information and raise awareness. At the regional level, it will work towards harmonizing key aspects of e-waste policies, and strengthening regional cooperation, knowledge management and information-exchange systems.

Jorge Jurado, Undersecretary of Environmental Quality of the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador, said: "In order to face the threat posed by the increase in the amount of electronic waste, it is necessary to set in motion all the mechanisms for its proper management, not only at the management level, but also considering the importance of drastically reducing its production."

Since 2008, UNIDO has been advising governments on legal frameworks and identifying financial options to sustain the recycling system, taking all stakeholders and stages of the e-waste recycling chain into account. UNIDO´s e-waste programme has been implemented in countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Viet Nam and Cambodia using funds from GEF and partnering with companies such as Dell and Microsoft.

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For further information, please contact:

Alfredo Cueva
UNIDO Project Manager
Email: A.Cueva[at]unido.org