E–waste management program launched to address growing issue in Jordan

AMMAN — The ‘Reduction and elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs)’ project launched by the Ministry of Environment with the support of the UNDP aims to address the question of electrical and electronic waste management in the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

Representatives from both agencies discussed the project during a launch event on Monday. They explored the role of the governmental sectors and the private sector in this environmental venture, in addition to the ‘2021 electrical and electronic waste management instructions’ published earlier this year.

“With the rise in use of electric and electrical devices, the issue of e-waste has grown,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Majeda Al Assaf during the event. “There is a lack of awareness on its negative and dangerous impacts, whether to the health or the environment.”

According to the Global E-waste Monitor, in 2019, approximately 53.6 million tons of e-waste was generated globally, equivalent to 7.3 kg per capita.

While there are no recent studies on the topic in Jordan, experts made estimations based on global reports. “Generally, e-waste makes up one to two percent of waste,” said acting Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment Mohammad Khashashneh during the event. This means that if Jordan generates an estimated 3 million tons in solid waste a year, then about 30 thousand tons would be electronic and electrical waste, he added.

“The exact percentages vary by country but in Jordan we probably are in the middle of this range because our market is saturated with electric and electronic devices.”

Yet, the impact of electronic waste on the public health and environment is not limited to Jordan, he explained. In addition to being persistent, among the properties of POPs is their ability to transfer across distances. This is why global action through agreements and financial policies are required.

“We do not want to underestimate their impact on public health and the environment,” said Khashashneh. He explained that improper e-waste management is a serious issue that must be prioritized. “For example, in the burning of the circuits in phones or computers to extract precious metals, which also contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury, leads to the formation of metal oxides that are toxic to inhale.”

These figures emphasized to the organizations the importance of having policies regarding managing this waste. The first step was developing and publishing the e-waste management instructions.

“The entities prepared instructions dedicated to electrical and electronic waste management in an effort to limit the release of POPs that result from the random and improper handling,” explained Director of Hazardous Substances and

waste management directorate Hajar Majar at the event.

“They are also to develop safe ways to manage and treat the waste through implementing effective policies and a sustainable financial model, collecting e-waste and raising awareness.”

The entities looked into the entire life cycle of electric and electronic devices – from when they are imported and until they become waste material– to create a system with penalties and incentives, according to Majar.

The experts agreed that the government, organizations and the private sector all play a part in raising awareness and ensure that the policies are being implemented. This not only creates a safer and more sustainable future, but also creates green job opportunities and builds local capacity.

“We are not just talking about protecting public health and the environment, we are also talking about new investment opportunities, and we are talking about a circular economy,” said Khashashneh.

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