ICT and Environment – Waste Side Story, Skopje, Macedonia

I’ve just got back from two days in Skopje, where I attended and presented at the ICT and Environment – Waste Side Story conference. The conference was organised by the Balkan e-Waste Management Advocacy Network (BEWMAN). Computer Aid has been working alongside BEWMAN for the past 18 months to tackle the e-waste problem in the West Balkans, through improved policy and practice across the region. The network is funded by the European Union.

The conference was the final part of the two year funded project and it brought together experts in sustainable IT and e-waste from countries across the Balkans and Europe.

Lovely Autumn view of the Vardar River from outside the conference centre in Skopje

I found the conference very interesting, there were some very good and insightful presentations.
 There was a presentation from the Danish media and research organisation, DanWatch, who launched their latest findings on the harmful effects of e-waste, and examined  the exploitation of child labour in Ghana. According to their research (which they took a year and half to complete), children shockingly constitute around 40 percent of the scrap workers working on the toxic e-waste dump sites in Ghana. DanWatch were looking at equipment leaving Denmark that goes to Africa, they found that a lot of the equipment currently being sent out of the country deemed for reuse, has only about half a year’s life left in it. Click here for the full presentation.

David Rochat, from the Swiss Environmental consultancy SOFIES gave a useful presentation on how to implement an efficient e-waste management system. He spoke about the many business opportunities that there are to deal with e-waste. David has experience of setting up e-waste management systems, both in Europe and in developing countries.

Federico Magalini from the UN’s StEP Initiative gave a presentation on the work they are doing in trying to find sustainable solutions to the e-waste problem. StEP is an initiative that the UN set up to facilitate environmentally, economically & socially sound approaches to reduce e-waste flows and handle them in a sustainable way. StEP works closely with NGO’s, OEMs and Recyclers.

At the conference I bought some lovely earrings made from e-waste

There were presentations on the Macedonian and the Bulgarian experiences of e-waste. Bulgaria is in the EU, however Macedonia is not, so they don’t have e-waste legislation in place like we do in the UK, as they don’t have the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) in place. Macedonia are currently implementing their own legislation similar to the WEEE legislation.

My presentation looked at solutions to dealing with the problem of e-waste.

All the presentations are available and can be downloaded here.

Anja ffrench, Director of Marketing and Communications, Computer Aid International

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