Stop press! Massive Open Online Course on E-waste launched by UN and partners to galvanise action for better managing this expanding source of hazardous waste
It is estimated that, by 2050, there will be about 120 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner.
The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partners EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, the International Telecommunication Union, KU Leuven and the World Resources Forum are very proud to re-launch the first-ever Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste, e-waste challenge, also with the contribution of the World Health Organization.
EIT Climate-KIC’s Learning Services Lead, Solveig Zophoniasdottir, says: “Our MOOC highlights that e-waste is a societal challenge that also is part of larger opportunity to create a prosperous zero carbon future, driven by innovation, jobs, and investment. EIT Climate-KIC is seizing that opportunity by connecting both public and private sectors with climate change-focused education, research and innovation. Ideas are the oxygen of growth in the zero-carbon economy, and I am convinced that this collaboration with UNEP will spark many new ones.”
Rolph Payet, BRS Executive Secretary said that “This MOOC will introduce you to the challenge of e-waste and especially to its environmentally sound recycling. In many countries women and children form up to 30% of the workforce in crude, e-waste processing and are therefore particularly vulnerable. When women and girls are affected in this way as the mothers of today and tomorrow, our common future is affected too. The course will take you from the problem, to opportunities, and to possible actions at local, regional and national levels, and will guide you through policy tools, standards and best practices for the collection, recycling, and final disposal of e-waste.”
Fast-growing waste stream
E-waste is a fast-growing waste stream in the world and poses a number of serious threats to human health and the environment. Conversely, if undertaken in an environmentally sound manner, e-waste recycling can offer sustainable livelihoods, green and decent work, and contribute to the development of a circular economy.
The course opens on Tuesday 18th February, and is aimed at students and researchers, policy makers in the environment and telecommunication sector, practitioners, entrepreneurs, e-waste recyclers and government officials and invites participants to become part of the solution to this growing problem. Relevant for developed and developing countries alike, the 8-week programme covers all aspects of e-waste with a view to turn the threat of this global explosion of e-waste into an opportunity. The course is organized in five mini-courses which could be taken one after the other or independently.
The MOOC explores and explains the Basel Convention technical guidelines on transboundary movements of e-waste which provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic.
E-waste is categorized as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants which include some polybrominated diphenyl ethers listed in the annexes to the Stockholm Convention, considered as hazardous waste according to the Basel Convention.
E-waste may also contain precious metals such as gold, copper and nickel and rare materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium. These precious and heavy metals could be recovered, recycled and used as valuable source of secondary raw materials. It has been documented that e-wastes are shipped to developing countries where it is often not managed in an environmentally sound manner, thus posing a serious threat to both human health and the environment.
Your call to action: take a look at the courses that make up this MOOC, enrol, become part of the solution!