Operators Throughout Region Undertaking a Range of Projects to Treat Electronic Waste
The GSMA today released the report “eWaste in Latin America”, a review of the electronic waste (e-waste) initiatives by mobile operators in Latin America, including Antel (Uruguay), Cable & Wireless (Panama), Claro (Peru), Entel (Chile), Nextel (Mexico), Oi (Brazil), Telcel (Mexico), Telecom Personal (Argentina), Telefónica Movistar (Ecuador and Panama), Telefónica Vivo (Brazil), Tigo (El Salvador) and TIM (Brazil). With insights gleaned from projects undertaken between 2009 and 2013, the report underscores the critical role that mobile operators are playing to improve e-waste management through a range of voluntary projects across the region.
“Over the past two decades, the proliferation of technology and widespread adoption of electronic devices, such as PCs, televisions, radios, mobile phones, tablets and routers, has led to an unprecedented amount of electronic waste, which is expected to reach 57.5 kilotonnes globally by 2015,” said Sebastian Cabello, Director, GSMA Latin America. “The GSMA is proud to see that mobile operators are already working to address this issue in Latin America, a region that will produce nearly nine per cent of the world’s e-waste by 2015.”
In Latin America, e-waste, also known as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), will grow 17.5 per cent in the next years, from 4.22 kilotonnes in 2012 to 4.96 kilotonnes in 2015, according to United Nations University (UNU). Given this growing issue, mobile operators in the region are developing programmes, campaigns and projects to treat e-waste, such as mobile phones, batteries and accessories, in compliance with local and international environmental legislation. As part of their environmental, sustainability and corporate social responsibility programmes, GSMA member operators across Latin America have established reverse logistics schemes for collecting, storing, categorising and disposing electronic waste. At the same time, the regional operators are investing in recycling plants and programmes, conducting reforestation efforts and carrying out awareness campaigns, among other activities.
For example, in 2013, Telefónica Movistar Ecuador processed 112,321 obsolete mobile phones from their users. In Brazil, the mobile network operator Oi is investing R$10 million in five recycling plants belonging to Descarte Certo, and in 2012, Descarte Certo collected 43,782 mobile devices, batteries and chargers from Oi customers. Further, Oi, Telefónica, TIM and Vivo collected 90.6 tonnes of WEEE in Brazil during 2012. In Peru, Claro installed 203 collection sites across the country and gathered more than 58,000 items between 2010 and 2013.
“The majority of the projects detailed in the report have been delivered through the operators’ individual initiatives, largely because countries in Latin America lack legal frameworks related specifically to e-waste,” continued Cabello. “Only in recent years have some countries started to discuss and apply new laws, such as in Brazil and Ecuador. It will be critical for operators in the region to continue their voluntary efforts around e-waste, but also to work closely with regulators to develop transparent and coordinated models that take into account the responsibility of various industry players. And of course, we must continue to raise public awareness of the risks presented by e-waste and the impact on the global environment.”
The full report and infographics are available here.