Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where are WEEE in Africa? Findings from the Basel Convention E-waste Africa Programme

The booklet devotes a fairly large amount to end-of-life issues for refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in developing countries, as well as export/trade issues.
Some of the highlights are listed below:
Page 16: "Furthermore, the environmentally sound management of end of-life refrigerators, air conditioners and similar equipment is significant in mitigating the climate change impacts as the ozone depleting substances in these devices, such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, have a high global
warming potential."
Page 25: "Insulating foam from dismantled refrigerators, primarily CFC containing polyurethane, or old car tyres are often used as the main fuels for the fires (Prakash et al. 2010), contributing to acute chemical hazards and long-term contamination at the burning sites, as well as emitting ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
Page 25: "Formalized processes in the e-waste recycling chain are only about to develop in the form of initial manual dismantling pilot projects (Ghana and Nigeria) or are planned (Benin and Côte d’Ivoire) through either private initiatives or development cooperation projects. All of them at least partially rely on financial start-up funding, which is not yet secured. More costly treatment processes, such as degassing CFCs and HCFCs from cooling and freezing appliances and CRT recycling are not available in West Africa. Only in Ghana there is a project commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aiming to set up a refrigerator collection and recycling system to recover and destroy CFCs. In most countries, formal refining processes exist for metallic fractions like steel and aluminium. This ranges from rather simple re-melting operations to larger metal smelters and refineries. Metallic scraps from e-waste are usually treated in these facilities, together with mixed metal scraps from other sources or sometimes with mining concentrates."
Page 28: Ghana - "New specific regulations with relevance to EEE and e-waste are the LI 1932 Energy Efficiency Regulations, 2008 (Prohibition of Manufacture, Sale or Importation of Incandescent Filament Lamp, Used Refrigerator, Used Refrigerator-Freezer, Used Freezer and Used Air-Conditioner). This prohibits the import as well as the sale and distribution of used refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioners. The enforcement of these regulations at this moment remains challenging."
Page 33-34: "In the case of refrigerators, the comparison of currently applied recycling techniques and best applicable technologies revealed that there are significant untapped environmental and, possibly, economic improvement potentials. These potentials can be realized by the recovery of CFCs and HFCs from cooling circuits and foams and subsequent destruction of these ozone depleting substances in dedicated facilities. Additionally, the sound management of hazardous components and a better utilization of the plastic fractions add to the benefits of sound refrigerator recycling. Economic benefits can be tapped if CFC and HFC-recovery and destruction are marketed using one of the existing emission reduction certification schemes, such as the Carbon Action Reserve (CAR) or the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS).
From an environmental perspective, best applicable technologies which would recover a minimum of 90% of total CFCs contained in cooling circuits as well as foams, would lead to proper management of two to seven tonnes of CO2 per device. Together with better utilization of plastics, mainly polystyrene – a potential which is neglected in currently applied recycling technologies – revenues from CO2 emission trading would yield much higher economic benefits. However, investment costs for setting up such facilities would range from around US$ 200,000 to 300,000 for basic machinery to recover CFCs from cooling circuits, to several million US$ for advanced recovery facilities. In addition, the management aspects related to the export of CFCs and certification and compliance within the framework of emission trading schemes could be quite complex. Thus, the informal e-waste sector is probably not in the position to manage such a recycling system. However, this sector should still be engaged in the collection of obsolete refrigerators, their transport to the recycling facility and the manual recycling steps. In this way, formal recycling businesses could closely interlink with current informal e-waste recycling structures to avoid competition in acquiring obsolete refrigerators."
Page 37: "According to the Dutch customs authority and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM)-Inspectorate, nearly 80% of the containers which were selected for inspection after a pre-screening process, have problematic contents or declarations (Öko-Institut et al. 2010).
The Port of Antwerp is the dominant Belgian port and an important gateway for trade with West Africa offering high capacities for both containers and car loading.
It is considered by government agencies to be more of a transit port, whereby containers and cargo are transported to the port by truck, rail, and barge and then loaded onto seagoing vessels (Öko Institut et al. 2010). Germany, and in particular Münster and Essen in the Ruhr-Region, is a major source of the cargo channeled through Antwerp, although cargo may originate from nearly any place in Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Eastern European countries. Furthermore, Antwerp terminals also handle used cars in containers originating from the USA and destined for Africa (Öko-Institut et al. 2010).
The Belgian inspection authorities conduct many inspections on transiting goods through the Port of Antwerp. In 2008, approximately 1200 container checks were conducted of which 127 contained e-waste and 47 were sent back to the country of origin. Belgian customs authorities assume that 90% of illegal waste shipments are conducted by co-loading e-waste into used cars (Öko-Institut et al. 2010). In both ports, used EEE is often declared as “second-hand goods”, “private goods”, “for charities”, “for personal use”,
“miscellaneous” and “effets personnels” (referring to EEE as second-hand goods, etc.). In order to disguise illegal exports, even the labeling of used EEE may be manipulated in itself (e.g. false codes for used refrigerators or removal of generators of used refrigerators in order to classify them as “not containing CFCs”) and custom declarations are given to the competent authorities only on the day the ocean carrier is scheduled to sail. In Antwerp, there are even agents specialized in the export of used EEE (Öko-Institut et al. 2010). Both, the Dutch and Belgian port authorities emphasize that personnel and financial limitations are severe obstacles to achieving better control of exports of used and end-of life EEE. In addition, a clear distinction between used and end-of-life EEE is often difficult to determine in practice."
Page 40: "Many West African re-use markets prefer refrigerators and TVs from European countries, as power formats and broadcasting systems make the installation of these products much easier than those originating from North America. However, there is an indication that some countries, for example, Liberia, also import refrigerators and TV sets from the US because of the compatibility of the power and installation systems."
Page 41: "In the past decade, sales of electrical and electronic equipment have been steadily increasing on all continents while used televisions, computers, refrigerators and many other types of used electrical and electronic equipment have been exported from OECD-member countries, such as the European Union and the US, to non-OECD member countries. There are several factors contributing to the trade of used EEE. One important factor is the demand in the countries of import to have access to good quality second-hand equipment at an affordable price. A second factor is intentional and unintentional leakages of used EEE and e-waste from the formal to the informal sector in developed countries, possibly spurred on by stringent environmental legislation in the countries of export."
Page 42: Lastly, lack of coordination at the national level poses problems not only in the area of enforcement of e-wasterelated legislation, but also for the sound management of chemicals and waste in general. Preventing and detecting illegal traffic of hazardous waste requires the expertise of different ministries and agencies. Customs officers cannot combat illegal traffic alone. They have to rely on the relevant national environment agencies to provide them with the appropriate legal and technical information, equipment and facilities. Conversely, national environment agencies need the support of customs agencies. In the case of illegal traffic of e-waste, cooperation between environment agencies, customs, port authorities, and port police is crucial and mechanisms for cooperation and information exchange must be strengthened. Those agencies responsible for health and occupational safety issues and national security should also play a role in effective enforcement of laws and regulations preventing the illegal traffic of e-waste."
Page 44: "The numerous training workshops and outreach activities organized in the scope of the project have raised awareness on e-waste challenges in the partner countries and, in some cases, contributed to the development of legislation aiming to tackle e-waste issues. For example, Nigeria has recently adopted National Environmental (Electrical/Electronics Sector) Regulations S.I. No. 23 of 2011 directly dealing with e-waste (see section 2.4.5, chapter 2) and the development of specific e-waste legislation in Ghana is under way. Furthermore, the awareness raising activities have helped strengthened the enforcement of the Basel Convention: between April and October, 2010 five ships from developed countries which carried containers with used TV sets, computers, refrigerators, monitors and vehicles co-loaded with used EEE, were intercepted in Lagos and Port-Harcourt, two busiest ports of Nigeria."
The booklet is available at >>
From: OzoNews