ILO seeks effective management of e-waste to create employment


The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called for a deliberate action aimed at turning toxic flood of electric and electronic waste (e-waste) produced around the world into a valuable source of decent work.

Representatives of governments, workers’ and employers’ organisations agreed at a meeting at the ILO in Geneva that governments should increase and promote investments in waste management infrastructure and systems at all levels, as appropriate, to manage the rapidly growing flows of e-waste in ways that advance decent work.

They also agreed on the urgency of protecting people working in e-waste field, which is toxic and hazardous and negatively affects workers and the environment.


Worker vice-chairperson, James Towers, who said that these workers are unaware of the many risks associated with handling e-waste, stressed that workers handling e-waste have no voice, no bargaining power and they are breaking hazardous materials by their hands.

Government vice-chairperson, Aniefiok Etim Essah, said in Nigeria, and in several other African countries, e-waste litters the entire landscape.

He added that: “Our youth possesses the creativity and potential for learning skills to manage e-waste, giving us the opportunity to increase youth employment.”

Only 20 per cent of e-waste is formally recycled, even though it is valued at €55 billion, the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste yearly.

Chair, ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste (E-waste), Nikhil Seth noted that e-waste is becoming an increasingly important resource for informal workers along the e-waste value chain who recover, repair, refurbish, re-use, repurpose and recycle electrical and electronic equipment, bring innovative services and products to the market and facilitate a transition to the circular economy.

Also, employer vice-chairperson, Patrick Van den Bossche, who said there is great business opportunity in the e-waste sector, said there is the need to step up efforts in creating decent and sustainable jobs, fostering an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises, offering new products and new services, and adding value through enhancing the circular economy.

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