UNEP Report: Illegally Traded and Dumped Waste Endangers Workers, Threatens Environment
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The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a report on illegal trading and dumping of waste around the world, including the finding that up to 90% of the world's electronic waste (e-waste) is illegally traded or dumped each year.

It also notes that of the food produced for human consumption globally, approximately one third is lost or wasted.

‘Waste Crime - Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge' was launched in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

UNEP12 May 2015: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a report on illegal trading and dumping of waste around the world. The report includes the finding that up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste (e-waste) is illegally traded or dumped each year, and notes that of the food produced for human consumption globally, approximately one third is lost or wasted. Titled ‘Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge,’ the report was launched at the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The global waste market is estimated to be worth US$410 billion a year, generating jobs and incomes, but also creating opportunities for illegal activities at various stages of the waste chain, UNEP notes. For example, operators often ignore waste regulations and expose workers to toxic chemicals, and organized crime may engage in tax fraud and money laundering, as waste handled largely goes unregistered.

According to the report, effectively combatting illegal waste trafficking will require consistent regulations between exporting and importing countries. As technical guidelines on classifying equipment as waste or non-waste are negotiated at the international level, binding agreements on waste classification through the Conventions will be crucial in preventing waste dumping in developing countries.

The report recommends that countries: strengthen awareness, monitoring and information by mapping the scale, routes and state of hazardous waste; strengthen awareness in the enforcement chain, and of prosecutors, regarding the risks of tax fraud and money laundering through the waste sector; strengthen national legislation and enforcement capacities; promote prevention measures and synergies; carry out a technical assessment of quantities and qualities of abandoned containers and of dumping of hazardous waste globally; and improve binding agreements on waste classification.

On e-waste, the report explains, innovative solutions to combat illegal and unsustainable handling, such as recovering valuable metals and other resources found inside electronic products, can decrease the amount of e-waste produced, lessen environmental pressures, create jobs and generate income.

The electronic industry generates up to 41 million tons of e-waste from, inter alia, computers and smart phones. Europe and North America are the largest producers of e-waste, with Asian cities close behind. Africa and Asia are key destinations for large-scale shipments of hazardous wastes for dumping. Smuggling takes place through organized truck transport in Europe and North America, and via smuggling hubs in South Asia, including container transport by sea. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge]


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