E-waste solution must involve us all: JPAC

The creation of programs to create awareness of the effects of e-waste on health and the environment, as well as the involvement of bigger, global players to take advantage of their leadership, best practices and opportunities in Canada, Mexico and the United States, are among the recommendations to the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America, released today by a panel of citizens of the three countries. As part of the forum organized by the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) in Montreal, Canada, on 21–22 June 2011, the document submitted to Council strongly recommends that the three NAFTA countries endorse the principles of the Basel Ban Amendment of the Basel Convention to provide an internationally consistent, legal restraint on the abuse created by market forces that externalize the costs of e-waste to less developed countries.

In its recommendations, JPAC recognizes the work of the CEC and the governments of the three countries to address e-waste and praises their inclusion in the CEC's Operational Plan of initiatives to collect, track and coordinate data that will facilitate e-waste management and enforcement.

However, the panel recommends that a much wider and more inclusive definition of e-waste be embraced, one that will expand CEC projects beyond the focus on “computers and monitors.”

JPAC also highlights the need to pay special attention to promoting North American recycling and upgrading practices, ranging from consumer habits to green design initiatives that would extend lifecycles and place design emphasis on components that are less toxic and more easily recycled, or that can be upgraded rather than requiring complete replacement.

The full text of JPAC’s Advice to Council is available online, along with the video of the public forum held in Montreal and the expert presentations delivered there.