Policy paper

In the past two years the often illegal export of waste from electric and electronic equipment (‘e-waste’) to developing countries has received considerable attention. Partly thanks to agenda-setting efforts of NGOs like Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network, concern has arisen regarding the hazardous environmental and health effects of irresponsible disposal and recycling of these wastes at Asian and African destinations (e.g. China, Nigeria, Ghana).

The issue has been placed on the agenda of e-waste sending and receiving countries alike, and several initiatives are being developed to combat these (illegal) e-waste transports. For instance, after conducting research on electronic waste exports in 2004, the inspection of the Dutch Ministry of the Environment performed several rule enforcement activities which had demonstrably diminished the unregistered trade in e-waste, reducing the risk of illegal export of e-waste from the Netherlands by 2006. Furthermore, the WEEE directive – the European directive aimed at responsible recycling of electronic waste – is currently being reviewed in order to tackle the continued ‘leakage’ of e-waste to developing countries.

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