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Thought paper: Global and complementary actions for electronics extended producer responsibility


Consumption rates of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) have grown drastically in the last few decades causing an inevitable increase in the amount of e-waste generated. According to one report, the global consumer electronics market will reach USD 1.787 billion by 2024.3 On average, the total weight of global EEE consumption excluding photovoltaic panels increases by 2.5 million metric tonnes every year.

Increasing e-waste collection is important to help prepare for potential material shortages and supply chain disruption, to improve environmental and human health conditions, to create jobs, reduce the digital divide and ultimately shift to a circular economy. E-waste is currently one of the fastest growing waste streams. E-waste collection is increasingly being carried out in response to regulation whereby the extended producer responsibility (EPR), where the manufacturer are responsible for the environmental impact of their products, is the driver.

The thought paper, Global and complementary actions for electronics extended producer responsibility​ presents complementary solutions and concepts to propel e-waste collection rates in line with EPR-based regulation, whilst also delving into the perceived need for an international regime around EPR to assist with harmonization efforts. New and complementary solutions and concepts are urgently needed to turn the tide on the side of e-waste collection and to move towards a circular economy. Complementary actions can be wide in scope, from commercially or not-for-profit driven to solution-based actions, including deposit-return or refund schemes, public-private-partnerships, as well as the all-actors-approach and the best-of-two worlds philosophy. Complementary actions can operate across national borders, but these would benefit greatly from an international regime, with the objective of overseeing a global approach to tackling e-waste and of ensuring the harmonization of national EPR approaches.

The thought paper was released on 14 October 2022, International E-waste Day 2022 (#eWasteDay).