E-waste in Trinidad and Tobago
What is e-waste? E-waste is short for electronic waste. It is unwanted electronic products. That older mobile phone with the broken screen sitting in your desk drawer ready to be thrown out is an example of e-waste. E-waste contains metals and chemicals that can be harmful to human health and the environment. Our aim should be to dispose properly and reduce, reuse and recycle.
A heaping 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019. That is an increase of 21 per cent in just five years. This is according to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020. The report also states that only 17.4% of 2019’s e-waste was collected and recycled. 14th October each year is International E-waste Day coordinated by the WEEE Forum and its members which focuses on highlighting the profile of the e-waste issue.
How are we treating with e-waste in Trinidad and Tobago? There is no specific e-waste legislation or policy but we do have a general and dated (2015) National Waste Recycling Policy and then the Waste Management Rules (2021). We have the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) and IMA (Institute of Marine Affairs) doing their usual to protect the environment. We have the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (located in Trinidad) who conducted an E-waste Assessment in 2013. They are currently conducting a survey on e-waste and when I saw that, it prompted me to write this blog post and share the survey on the Trinidad and Tobago reddit.
When I Google "ewaste in Trinidad" I see that there are several companies offering e-waste disposal services locally. The local media has written about the topic and there are some e-waste projects like RSC's project RIDE. What are some things that other Caribbean countries are doing? Jamaica is developing an E-waste Disposal Programme. The Caribbean e-Waste Management Inc. is located in Barbados. In 2019 an e-waste survey was conducted by Miss Penelope DeFreitas of the University of Guyana.
My research for this topic is showing that we in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean are aware of the problem and surrounding issues and are working on solutions but not enough is being done. We in Trinidad and Tobago need to wake up and smell the coffee and take action now. Educate the population and provide options for e-waste disposal and recycling. E-waste management can also be a revenue earner for the country. I have emailed the Ministry of Digital Transformation and asked, "What is the Ministry's position on ewaste and what is going to be done for ewaste?" I also invited BCRC-Caribbean to take part in a Q and A for the blog.