UAE Seeks Regulations for Disposal of E-Waste

Tackling the Issue of E-Waste in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is tackling one of the problems of our modern technologically advanced society head on – the disposal of electronic waste. The UAE is currently in the process of drawing up regulations and developing recycling facilities to address the problem of disposal of sensitive electronics such as cell phones, computers, televisions and other electronics.

In 2012, the world disposed of approximately 49 million metric tons of e-waste and it is projected that number will climb by 33%, to 65 million metric tons by 2017. Worldwide, 15 to 20% of e-waste is recycled, but the Middle East currently lags behind, recycling only 5% of discarded electronics.

The UAE Takes a Pro-Active Approach

The UAE disposes of a disproportionately large share of e-waste, 29.28kg per person. Because the UAE has a higher than average per capita income, residents have a higher disposable income and therefore are more likely to dispose of electronics in favor of the latest cutting edge gadgets. This trend cuts across businesses, organizations, and households. While progress has been made in creating proper disposal facilities and techniques, it is a work still in development. However, the UAE is committed to ensuring the safety of its residents and being a good global citizen in tending to the environment, as is shown by their pro-active approach to this issue.

The Toxic Fallout of E-Waste

Among the many concerns regarding the disposal of e-waste is a great potential for health and environmental fallout. E-waste has a number of toxic substances associated with it, including lead, cadmium and mercury. Harm can come through inhalation of toxic fumes, a buildup of toxic substances in soil, water and food sources. Additionally, any direct contact with these substances can also be harmful. Proper disposal and recycling will ensure that toxic substances are disposed of in a safe manner and parts are recycled and reused where possible.

Access to Sensitive Data Is a Chief Concern

In addition to health concerns, the dangers of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands has also brought about the need for regulating disposal of e-waste. The opportunity for identify theft is a chief concern with improper disposal because the possibility of stored information ending up in the wrong hands. Sensitive data is stored on smartphones, PCs, laptops, tablets, and even game consoles. This can include login information for email accounts, social media, banking, and online shopping sites. Additionally, personal data such as photographs, videos, passport copies, and Emirates IDs may be stored on these devices. Businesses may be vulnerable to losing confidential salary information, client contacts, and network information. To protect the sensitive information that may be stored on electronic devices, it is recommended that when disposing of electronics that SIM cards and hard drives be removed and destroyed.

Setting the Tone in the Middle East

The UAE currently sponsors programs for the collection and recycling of electronics to further help reduce the dangers of improperly discarded products. The UAE is also working with privately run recycling organizations to raise awareness about the importance of this issue. Many people are unaware that even an electronic device that has malfunctioned can still be harvested for working parts rather than disposed of, thereby lessening the amount of waste. Due to a high level of diligence and getting out ahead of this issue, the UAE is setting the tone for electronic waste recycling in the Middle East.

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