As of May 2015, Bolivia electronic waste will be exported to four countries

Gabriel Diez reports for Pagina Siete:


As of May, Bolivia electronic waste will be exported to four countries

The destinations are the United States, China, Denmark and Belgium. At first, it is planned to be sent 30 tons of such waste to those States.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.28.33 AMSince May, Bolivia will be exporting electrical and electronic equipment waste to four countries. This aims to give these equipment an environmentally “correct” ending. A company and a foundation will be responsible to get out of the country, at least 30 tons until year-end.

Waste computers, monitors, televisions, keyboards, cell phones, tablets and other internal circuitry of these devices are often a problem for people when they become obsolete. Therefore, these initiatives are born to channel their non-use.

After 17 years of computer technology import and distribute the domestic market, it was born, last October, the Bolivian Electronic Recycling Company (BOLREC), as a project of Social Responsibility. This company seeks to enter markets in the United States and China starting May.

Moreover, the Foundation for recycling (FUNDARE) under the Chamber of Industry and Commerce entity plans to export this waste since September to countries like Denmark and Belgium.

Both ventures are in the process of collection of these materials, as each agreement signed requires a specific amount of waste. For BOLREC, should accumulate 25 tons. Fundare set a goal to reach 10 to start exports.

The director of FUNDARE Santa Cruz, Moira Galvez explains the environmental license was obtained in November 2014. “We are working with the collection and separation of waste. What we will do is separated by type of components, also plastics and circuits,” she says.

In turn, the operations manager BOLREC, Carlos Borja Alarcón states that they have the goal of reaching 100 tons per year. “We are in the process of collecting since last year until now we have doubled our workforce; we process 24 tons of waste so far,” he says.

This businessman says that will be exported to the United States “all the electronics”. While all that is plastic will be sent to China, where, he says, there are plants disposal of such waste.

Sara Pauli, SwissContact Environmental Management specialist,  believes that these actions occur because there is still no technology to manage and process these elements. “They export waste to recycling companies. There is Unicore in Belgium and Sims who is originally from Germany but based in different countries, that are world class reference,” she says.

Last November, the UN chief in this area, Ruediger Kuehr warned that this is a problem for all states in the world. “Those who make political decisions, as governments are aware that this is a time bomb and that decisions must be made,” he said.

In this regard, Galvez explains that before this waste was not suitable for safe disposal. Therefore, in FUNDARE, following many inquiries and investigations, they realized the extent of contamination that may result.

In the same line of action, BOLREC considers that responsible and subsequent export management are vital. “We hope to collaborate with society, contributing a bit to prevent these 25,000 tons of waste per year from reaching landfills and contaminate groundwater,” says Borja.

The legislation is a pending issue

The absence of policies and specific regulations for the treatment and management of electronic waste, known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (REE), prevents this sector from developing in Bolivia.

The manager of REEcicla, Jhonnatan Butron, believes that the absence of a law regulating the sector, does not encourage businesses and citizens to be responsible. His company is dedicated to the collection and management of REE.

“It affects a lot because companies generally are not obliged to manage their REE properly and can do whatever they want. And for us customer acquisition is very difficult,” he says.

The Specialist in Environmental Management SwissContact, Sara Pauli, agrees on the need to promote policies that benefit the category of REE to improve their work. In turn, Butron believes that a law for this sector would benefit people who want to get rid of these items and also companies who are responsible for their collection. “Businesses would be forced to show in relation to the competent authority an annual report of their REE” he says.

So, one more time we have civil society, international donor organizations and private sector as the key players on a extremely sensitive and pollutant management. It is the government’s turn, to come up with pertinent laws and regulations that speed up this process, only that is requested from politicians, only that.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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