The CBU has teamed up with the International Telecommunications Union to tackle the issue of electronic waste in the region

The ITU has funded a Caribbean project that aims to limit potential environmental risks to the countries in the region as broadcasters plan and implement the move from analogue to digital systems. It will provide governments and regulators with up-to-date, relevant policies and laws to manage the disposal or re-use of ICT equipment during the digital transition process.

The head of the ITU’s Caribbean office, Cleveland Thomas, said: “There have been alarming reports of e-waste mismanagement in many countries, particularly in less-developed countries. However this project will help to equip regional governments with the tools to avoid these experiences, which can have a major negative impact in small developing states like those found in the Caribbean.”

The accelerating speed of developments and upgrades for TVs, mobile phones and computers means there is a very large looming waste issue, which disproportionately affects geographically smaller countries with fragile ecosystems and rich biodiversity.

Analogue wasteland

Wanton disposal and abandonment of PC motherboards, computer monitors and hard drives could lead to an ‘analogue wasteland’ – contaminating soil and water with high concentrations of lead, mercury, thallium, hydrogen cyanide and PVC, to name a few.

The initiative will formulate model policies and laws in the areas of environmental standards, electronic waste management and recycling of televisions, mobile phones and computers. It will also include anti-dumping regulations for televisions that do not conform to regional requirements and international standards.

As the Caribbean joins the rest of the world in digital switchover, the CBU has called on the region’s governments to address the major financial, social and environmental implications of the major change.