United Nations University launches E-Waste Academy

Global: Together with Philips and Umicore, the Dutch Association for the Disposal of Metal and Electrical Products (NVMP) has hosted an e-waste summer school. Under the Ghana-based project, which comes under the United Nations University umbrella, a select group of global industrial experts and scientists were invited to search for new ways of tackling the growing problem of discarded electronics.

Intended to be held annually, the event - commonly referred to as the E-Waste Academy - touched on a myriad of themes, ranging from environmental justice and consumer behaviour to recycling technology. Apart from playing host to recycling specialists, additional contributions were made by an international party of students, representing 18 different countries.

NVMP’s Head of Research and Development André Habets comments: ‘Building research capacity on e-waste management is a key objective of NVMP. Hence, the summer school is a wonderful platform for this.’ He hopes the initiative will help create networks among policy-makers, thus fostering ‘real solutions’.

According to NVMP, progress is necessary given that, in rich and poor countries alike, only 10-15% of the gold in e-waste is successfully recovered while the rest is simply lost. Experts told the E-waste Academy that recovery results must improve as electronic waste now contains deposits of precious metal estimated to be between 40 and 50 times richer than ores mined from the earth.

There has been positive feedback on the event from the academy’s participants. ‘The “best practices scenarios” and various examples demonstrating how the right use of basic means might ensure sustainable e-waste management were especially valuable,’ states Ghana Young Women Social Entrepreneurs’ Executive Director Ama Pomaa Andoh.

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