Colombia faces a rising tide of e-waste. Approximately 110,000 tonnes of e-waste is generated annually, which must be managed in an appropriate manner in order to protect human health and the environment.
Since 2009, Empa has been implementing the “E-Waste Recycling for Latin America” project in order to create sustainable framework conditions for the sound management of e-waste in Colombia. The project has been executed closely with partners in Colombia, such as the Ministry of Environment (Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, MADS), other government agencies such as the Ministry for ICT (Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones, MINTIC), the National Association of Industries (Asociación Nacional de Empresarios, ANDI) and the Colombian Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications (Cámara Colombiana de Informática y Telecomunicaciones, CCIT).
Since 2013 the project activities were prolonged through the “Sustainable Recycling Industries SRI “in order to consolidate advances through the implementation of a legal e-waste framework, other aspects of communication and standardization, as well as producer led take back systems.
Today, Colombia has a specific legal framework for e-waste. Resolution 1512 is based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This has led to the creation of the collective take-back system Ecocomputo, which covers over 50% of the producers and importers of computers. Additionally, technical guidance have been prepared under the leadership of MADS.
The new e-waste legislation in Colombia demands for the formation of a national WEEE committee. With support of the SRI project, this committee was institutionalized in 2014 as a sustainable stakeholder process. It is a pivotal instrument for the implementation of the key SRI activities in Colombia. On demand of and in close collaboration with the Environmental Ministry (MADS) the project supports the finalization of the national WEEE policy document, the development of criteria for mandatory technical standards for WEEE treatment and further support for the development of technical WEEE regulations.
Besides the mandatory standards the projects supports the development of voluntary WEEE treatment standards, based on currents advances on international level (CENELEC / WEEELABEX, R2, e-Stewardship, etc.). Main partner for this is the “Asociación Nacional de Empresarios de Colombia” (ANDI), who already launched take-back schemes for certain e-waste categories. The project is also facilitating the formation of a recycler association, in order to enable recyclers to participate in the national stakeholder process (national WEEE committee) as one voice. Together with ANDI, the recyclers and the “National Service of Learning” (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje – SENA), the project will also support the development of recycling experts training itineraries, in order to enable recyclers to technically comply with upcoming mandatory and voluntary recycling standards.
The most advanced WEEE take-back system “Ecocomputo”, focusing on IT equipment, is currently in a critical development process to develop cost-efficient structures. The project is supporting this process by giving technical support related to cost structure and operational details. Furthermore SRI supports ANDI in their current process to establish a other take-back scheme, such as for white goods.