Dell and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed an agreement to cooperate on identifying and implementing a sustainable solution model for e-waste management for developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The memorandum of understanding commits the two organizations to work together for a period of five years, with an option to extend the partnership.
Developing countries are expected to account for the majority of discarded electronics by 2016, and twice that of more developed regions by 2030. The aim of this agreement is to create awareness, build capacity, and engage in knowledge sharing and policy advocacy with regard to sustainable e-waste management; to support the creation of an operational and economically viable collection network, and dismantling and recycling facilities, to process e-waste in developing countries in a safe and environmentally sound way; and to support the development of local recycling infrastructure, contributing to the industrial development of these countries and creating sustainable, eco-friendly economies.
Where inadequate data exists, UNIDO and Dell will carry out the inventory and mapping of e-waste dismantling and recycling technologies and facilities, and will support the development of feasibility studies supporting the design of collection programs and networks or the up-scaling of recycling centers.
UNIDO has an established e-waste program that addresses the full lifecycle of ICT equipment by properly dismantling and recycling it once the equipment has become obsolete. The program aims to foster the development of an environmentally sound e-waste recycling industry in developing countries. With the active support of 35 National Cleaner Production Centres, UNIDO focuses on promoting an environmental service industry in developing countries; preparing national e-waste assessment reports; establishing partnerships with national and international institutions from the public and private sector; and facilitating the establishment of local and regional e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities.
Dell is no novice in the e-waste reduction game. In 2013, the company launched an initiative in partnership with Goodwill called Dell Reconnect, which accepts all brands of used computer equipment in any condition and ensures they are recycled responsibly. All revenues from the resale value go to Goodwill, and many Goodwill shoppers get lower-cost access to technology via more affordable refurbished computers. The program also creates jobs for workers at Goodwill who sort and repair the systems, helping to fulfill Goodwill’s mission of putting people back to work.
As the developing world becomes more entwined with technology, it is also becoming one of the biggest markets for innovative products and services. Over the next decade, investments in clean technologies in emerging markets are estimated to exceed $6 trillion, of which $1.6 trillion represent business opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to a recent report by infoDev/World Bank Group in collaboration with the Carbon Trust. The report identifies China, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa as the top three markets in the developing world for clean technology SMEs, with an expected market size of $415 billion, $349 billion, and $235 billion, respectively. The most promising opportunities are in wastewater treatment, onshore wind, solar panels, electric vehicles and small hydro.