Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is one of the fast-growing types of waste worldwide which includes discarded electrical or electronic equipment such as old televisions, computers, printers, mobile phones and lead batteries. High toxicity of e-waste, including lead, causes pollution and health problems if improperly disposed of through methods like incineration. On the other hand, e-waste also contains important secondary non-renewable materials such as copper. Disposal of such valuable materials means that they are lost forever and cannot be reused. This pushes countries worldwide to mine for new materials.
From an economic perspective, e-waste includes non-renewable precious components as gold, silver & copper. If totally disposed, that would absolutely impose a great financial burden on nations who would waste huge budgets again for mining, and hence the value of the Project and its sustainable outcomes such as reducing pollution, preserving non-renewable natural resources, besides creating jobs.
Switzerland has been supporting knowledge partnerships in e-waste recycling with developing countries since 2003. In 2012 the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Sciences and Technology (EMPA), the World Resources Forum Association (WRFA) and ECOINVENT Association decided to launch the “Sustainable Recycling Industries” (SRI) programme, with the aim of supporting the sustainable integration and participation of small and medium enterprises from developing countries in the global recycling of secondary non-renewable resources. Participating countries include Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa and Brazil. The programme started in Egypt in 2016 and will be effective until end of 2017.
The SRI programme addresses the demand for a comprehensive international approach to ensure that recovery of secondary resources is enabled under sustainable conditions. Among others, the programme will pursue and promote life cycle thinking, harmonization of international standards towards fair recovery and trade of secondary resources and applying novel financing mechanisms to safely detoxify waste streams and destroy illegal substances. E-waste recycling, therefore, has three crucial benefits: reduction of pollution, conservation of precious natural resources, and creation of new business opportunities.
SRI Egypt is funded by the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), the project is implemented by the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), the international experts from Sofies Switzerland and is supported by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the Egyptian Ministry of Environment. Cooperation with other ministries (Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Trade & Industry) as well as synergies with other projects on e-waste is also foreseen.
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