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E-waste policy coming - Holness

Published:Monday | August 22, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Education Andrew Holness (left) speaks with chairperson of the Digicel Foundation, Lisa Lewis (right) and Cormac Lynch (second right), chief executive officer of Camara International, following a ceremony held at the Penwood High School in Kingston to officially open its technology centre on August 18. Looking on (from second left) are Alan Beckford, project director for the Ministry of Education's Career Advancement Programme, and principal of the school, Austin Burrell. - Contributed

Education Minister Andrew Holness says the Government will be looking at developing an electronic waste (e-waste) policy and creating an industry to deal with the management and recycling of this refuse.

According to Holness, instead of dumping electronic waste, an industry could be established to deal with this.

"The industry doesn't have to be a profit-oriented (sector), it could be a structure where Government says that electronic waste is becoming a public issue, let us develop a policy on e-waste," said Holness.

He was speaking at the official opening of a technology centre at the Penwood High School in Kingston last week.

The education minister said that if firms want to give computers to the country, the proposed e-waste policy should set the standards for the imports.

"We should have the facility to process those computers to make sure that they are configured to our standards; to make sure that the people who will receive these computers understand the useful life of the computer; and that when the computer has reached that useful life, we understand the appropriate way of disposing of that computer," he said.

Holness said his ministry would be inviting partners "to look at starting this industry of managing and recycling electronic waste," which, he said, is becoming a challenge as the stockpile of unwanted technological gadgets continue to grow.

He noted that with 1.7 billion cellphones being sold each year, and more than 350 million computers being exported annually, if these and other appliances are disposed of improperly, they could generate significant waste that could affect the environment.

The technology centre, which has been established by the Camara Jamaica Foundation Limited, will be a hub for the distribution, refurbishing and maintenance of recycled computers provided by the Foundation's parent company, Camara International, a charitable organisation based in Ireland.