Renee St. Denis, vice president of Sims Recycling Solutions, and Patricia Whiting, senior international policy analyst for Sims Recycling Solutions’ original equipment manufacturer (OEM) compliance team, participated in the sixth physical meeting of the Basel Convention’s Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) in Johannesburg, South Africa on September 23-26, 2013. PACE is a multi-stakeholder, public-private partnership established under the auspices of the Basel Convention to provide a forum for governments of member countries that implement the Convention, as well as industry leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia to collaborate and promote the environmentally sound management (ESM) of the refurbishment, recycling, and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment.
The Basel Convention physical meetings are held every 6-9 months and hosted by a PACE member country. The physical meetings afford the members of each of the six working groups (referenced below) the opportunity to meet in person, report on progress, and make decisions on projects. All other meetings are held via teleconference. Prior physical meetings have been held in Geneva, Switzerland; Bonn, Germany; Beijing, China; Washington, and San Salvador, El Salvador. PACE is co-chaired by Marco Buletti from the Swiss Ministry of Environment and Oladele Osobanjo, the director of the Nigerian Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Centre (BCRC) representing West Africa. PACE currently maintains six permanent working groups and one interim working group, each with two or more co-chairs. The topics of each working group are:
- ESM recovery and recycling of end-of-life computing equipment
- Collection and management of end-of-life computing equipment from informal sectors (pilot project focus)
- Environmentally sound testing, refurbishment, and repair of used computing equipment
- Awareness raising and training
- Strategies, actions, and incentives to promote ESM
- Trans-boundary movement
St. Denis is a co-chair of the ESM Recovery and Recycling of End-of-Life Computing Equipment working group and Whiting is a co-chair of the Collection and Management of End-of-Life Computing Equipment from Informal Sectors working group.
The interim working group is co-chaired by Bartley and Michael Vanderpool of Environment Canada and is working to develop a standard ESM criterion for use by all working groups.
What Happened in Johannesburg?
A great deal of information was shared at the meeting amongst attendees and below is a quick summary of presentations and working group discussions.
ESM Initiatives Concerning Used and End-of-Life Electronics
The PACE meeting commenced with a number of presentations by PACE members concerning used and end-of-life electronics initiatives in their respective countries. Presentation topics included:
- An assessment of waste electronic and electrical equipment in Trinidad and Tobago – presented by Jonelle Rene Jones, of the BCRC for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean region
- E-Waste management in Japan – presented by Shunichi Honda, of the Japanese Ministry of Environment
- The evolution of Brazilian policy on solid waste since 2010 – presented by Marcos Pimentel, of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation’s Center for Information Technology
- A BCRC pilot project to establish ESM systems for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in Moldova – presented by Dana Lapesova, of the BCRC Slovakia, which serves the Eastern European region
- A Swiss ordinance on end-of-life management of EEE – presented by Marco Buletti
- E-waste management in China and Beijing BCRC activities – presented by Lixia Zheng, of the BCRC for Asia and the Pacific
Sims gleaned a tremendous amount of information from our colleagues’ presentations and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention was kind enough to send the meeting participants each speaker’s PowerPoint presentations. Please contact Patricia Whiting at email@example.com if you are interested in receiving this information.
ESM Recovery and Recycling of End-of-Life Computing Equipment and Environmentally Sound Testing, Refurbishment, and Repair of Used
Computing Equipment Working Groups
In this meeting, PACE members discussed future work, now that both the Environmentally Sound Testing and Repair Technical Guidelines and the ESM on Reuse and Recycling Technical Guidelines have been completed and adopted by the Basel Convention. The group previously identified the development of “Interim Measures on Repair and Refurbishment of Computing Equipment” as a priority task that would facilitate the implementation of the guidelines in developing countries. It was agreed that three key future goals will be the following:
- To get the informal sector to the level of the formal sector
- To have a step-by-step approach to achieving the provisions identified in the guidelines
- To clearly demonstrate how to reach ESM
Pilot Projects on Collection and Management of End-of-Life Computing Equipment from Informal Sectors Working Group
This meeting reviewed the status of a pilot project being conducted in Jordan and administered by the Jordanian Ministry of Environment; and approved the launch of a proposed pilot which will be implemented by the University of Belgrade and administered by the BCRC-Slovakia for Serbia. Pilot project proposals for Brazil and Kenya submitted by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) were also discussed, and it was agreed that the individual Basel BCRCs could submit proposals for smaller scale pilot projects.
Public Awareness Raising and Training Activities Working Group
PACE members recognized the success of the awareness-raising workshops organized by the BCRCs of China, Slovakia, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, and agreed that an additional workshop should be held in the Africa region as well.
This working group also covered the success of recent webinars on the topics of extended producer responsibility (presented on three different occasions in English, French, and Spanish) and material recovery. The first material recovery webinar targeted Asian countries and the second was held after the PACE meeting on November 19 for the Americas region. (See side bar for more information on the webinar). This discussion resulted in the development of new topic ideas – one being a webinar on “business models” – and a call to approach potential presenters.
Strategies, Actions, and Incentives to Promote ESM Working Group
During this working group a draft questionnaire was reviewed. The questionnaire was developed to generate ideas for strategies, actions, and incentives to promote ESM and members agreed to conduct additional work to streamline this document.
Trans-boundary Movement Working Group
PACE developed a questionnaire for the competent authorities of Basel parties concerning their experience with the Basel Convention Prior Informed Notice and Consent Process (PIC) with the intent to inform Basel Parties on how PIC is implemented. It was noted that this document has been sent to the Basel competent authorities for completion by the beginning of November. The Basel Convention was the first multilateral agreement to establish a control system for the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste, and this import and export control system relies largely on the PIC process as a mechanism for countries to control hazardous waste imports and exports.
On a Personal Note…
Sims’ involvement in the Basel PACE has been both beneficial and rewarding. This partnership has afforded Sims the opportunity to interface with global experts; international organizations; academia; NGOs; and the private sector, representing a range of disciplines (environmental, social, and technical). These exchanges have enhanced the OEM team’s knowledge of the issues surrounding the environmentally-sound management of used end-of-life electronics, as well as the people and cultures that are included within Sims’ geographical footprint. Sims Recycling Solutions would like to acknowledge Dr. Taelo Letsela, director of the Africa Institute – the BCRC for English Speaking African countries, and his staff (in particular, James Mololo and Neo Masha) for successfully hosting the recent PACE meeting and sharing the great culture and food of the South African.
The Basel Convention has been hosting a number of webinars to promote tools, such as the guidelines developed by the Basel PACE, to encourage the environmentally-sound management of computing equipment.
On November 19, Patricia Whiting of Sims and Karen Pollard of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) shared their unique perspectives on experiences, on a Basel webinar. These two were selected to provide insight regarding the opportunities and challenges associated with recovery practices from the private sector and the government sector. This webinar targeted the Latin American, African and European regions and was shared again in December at an hour convenient for Asian audiences.
For more information about the webinars contact Patrick Michelli of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions at firstname.lastname@example.org.