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Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the LAC Region: Mapping of Existing Initiatives

Technological development has made electrical and electronic equipment (EEE1) essential parts of contemporary life and indispensable products in today’s societies. Information technology (IT) combined with the technological advances in recent decades, has resulted in EEE having a great influence on the daily life of consumers in aspects such as health, safety, knowledge, comfort information, among others. The global consumption of electronics is growing 2.5 million metric tons per year (Forti, Baldé, Kuehr, & Bel, 2020), because technology increases the living standards of people and makes our day-to-day activities easier. 

This accelerated growth in EEE consumption has been considered as one of the fastest in the world causing a culture of "use-and-throw " where the consumer is under the impression that the latest product is always the best. As a result of this paradigm, EEE becomes obsolete at an early stage in their life cycle, sometimes within only a few months of their release. As in other parts of the world, the importance of the electronics sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has increased over the past decades due to the growing consumption of electronics, for example the constant growth in the generation of WEEE

Nonetheless, it is important to consider that EEE production requires multiple process of extraction and transformation of raw material, which generates significant social and environmental impacts, such as air and water contamination, landscape modification and human health problems (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, 2017). Furthermore, the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generated upon products’ end-of-life (EOL) includes not only valuable parts or materials but also chemicals of concern (CoC) that threaten the environment and human health.

Latin America represented approximately 9% of the total WEEE generated worldwide for 2017, totaling 4,400 kilotons (Jorisch et al, 2018). Considering the current figures, achieving circularity in the region is key to improve waste management and mitigate environmental and social impacts throughout the entire value-chain of electronic products. The circular approach allows the sector to be analyzed throughout the different phases that make up its life cycle, identifying opportunities to enhance the processes in each stage.

The present document forms part of the Regional Electronics Study and Circularity Roadmap in the LAC Region. As part of this project, this document reviews previous and current initiatives promoting circularity in EEE, WEEE and relatedly chemical waste throughout the LAC region, with emphasis on five selected countries. The objective of the analysis is to assess gaps and include relevant national, regional, and global initiatives in the roadmap. For this mapping, initiatives from development agencies, United Nations (UN) agencies, private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations were considered, among others.