Electronic waste has started becoming a major problem for the entire globe and it is estimated that in the upcoming years the generation of e-waste will be of 50 million metric tons (Hekkert 2017). The Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation has started understanding the need for working in the field of waste in the form of a circular economy to gain a holistic approach regarding the issue. The report aims to analyze various policy frameworks that can support the Asia-pacific economic cooperation to address and adopt various solutions regarding the circular e-waste. Apart from this report will also focus on various measures that can be undertaken by the government to ensure the environmental as well as the health concerns by processing e-waste in the economy. in this present report, the role of Asia Pacific economic cooperation will also be determined in the circular economy through various regional supply chains and all the other public-private partnerships that are working together to bring change in the economy to contribute to the goals of sustainable development.
To conduct the present research, the researcher has majorly relied upon using the secondary sources in the form of qualitative data. the researcher had relied upon the already published authenticated journal articles, newspapers, books as well as other credible online sources. To conduct the research, the researcher has only so relied upon the quantitative data analysis provided by various scholarly researches in there already published journal articles on various databases. The researcher has not conducted any survey and had not relied upon conducting any primary data collection methodology. The methodology adopted by the researcher does not include any interviews of the stakeholders but rather had only relied upon the peer-reviewed articles as well as the websites of the government.
The problem of electronic waste is not restricted to any particular economy or country but it is a challenge which is being suffered by the entire world. Therefore various countries had adopted various mitigating best practice policy frameworks to support the adoption of circular electronic waste. Bandopadhyay Amitava (2008) is the regulatory policy framework approach which was adopted by India for its regulation of e-waste management (Hekkert 2017). Apart from this the government in China has also come up with various policies to restrict the imports of electronics which cannot be discarded in the country and their forehead implemented the policy framework named technical policy on pollution prevention and control of waste electric and electronic products (2006). There are various other policy frameworks like administrative measures (2007) that are also formulated by the government of China for providing the license to the companies to ensure the legitimate recycling of the electronic waste in the country (Hekkert 2017).
There are various barriers to implement the circular economy across the globe. There are several economic as well as an environmental barrier that exists in such a way that it restricts the implementation of appropriate policies to the issue. Financial incapacity is the major factor that holds back the implementation of policies in the development. The cost of technologies to recycle electronic waste is very high and therefore there is a huge uncertainty of getting succeeded with the challenge of the circular economy. Apart from this, other structural and institutional barriers also contribute to the restriction in the implementation of policy frameworks. The complexity in the legislation and laws governing the issue provides difficulty for the government to implement the policies of the circular economy. To implement such policies the support must be gained from the government.
Transport of waste from one National boundary to another becomes difficult if the government of that country does not provide adequate support. Lack of adequate and high technology is also a source of a hindrance to adopting the circular economy models in the country, especially in regards to developing or underdeveloped countries. The workers in the country must have enough information and knowledge to recycle the existing metals. Lack of knowledge creates a challenge for assessing, identifying, and implementing the Hi-Tech technologies if available. The inappropriate supply chain also acts as a barrier as this involves the contribution of multiple stakeholders. Lack of network support from government has result in the less appropriate environment awareness amongst the stakeholders. Under the situation of less collaboration, the number of available resources gets reduced and therefore this acts as a challenge to implement the circular economy in various countries.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that human health and the environment are not getting affected and simultaneously the process of e-waste is also met. Various electronic items are made up of hazardous materials and metals like mercury, lead, phosphorus, etc. These elements may likely to affect the soil and groundwater if stored inappropriately (Nielsen 2019). This can create long-term contamination on this soil and water and ultimately can create issues for human health. The Government of Australia has formulated various legislations like environment protection Act 1997, clinical waste at 1990, protection of the environment operations Act 1997 and many more to ensure that the environment is protected without compromising the recycling of electronic place in the country (Wong 2012).
The government had also enacted the product stewardship Act 2011 which provides a framework for managing the health and environment safe from the impact of disposal of electronic products. Governments had taken Reliance upon the various regulations regarding the practical application of the electronic waste regulations which create a negative impact on the health of individuals in the areas living nearby the landfills. Informal recycling of electronic waste has become the most dangerous source of health risk and environmental pollution and therefore various International health communities and governmental as well as Non-governmental organizations had started formulating various policy solutions to provide awareness programs and interventions to minimize the exposure from electronic waste. All the retrospective researches are not enough to measure the larger health effects which may likely to occur because of the exposure of electronic waste (Hekkert 2017). Therefore it is recommended that the government must formulate policies to fill the gaps between the study and impact of human health and environment from the exposure of electronic waste.
The Government of Australia aimed to underline the international obligations to protect human health as well as the environment by taking responsibility for the circular economy (Reuter 2011). The government realizes that it is important to reduce the risk and hazard associated with the disposal of products and simultaneously citizens living nearby the areas of dumping landfills must be made aware of the safety measures they need to take to avoid any health issues (Circular Economy 2019). By formulating various policies like the national strategy for ecologically sustainable development which was formulated by the council of Australian government works to improve the market by tailoring solutions to be provided to the people who are more likely to get exposed from the risk of disposal of electronic products. Apart from this, the Government of Australia has also come up with the natural environment protection council act 1994 which regulates the movement of electronic waste from one state to another (Reuter 2011). The government makes sure that the electronic waste is properly transported and handled according to the sound practice of the environment. Apart from disposal the government also insurance regarding the packaging of such materials to encourage the same for recycling.
APEC plays an important role in advancing the circular economy in the country with the help of the regional supply chain. APEC has recognized the importance of growth strategy while maintaining the balance between sustainable and secure growth. In the year 2014, the leader of APEC has come up with a project by promoting supply change for various reasons to achieve economic prosperity while maintaining and preventing environmental pollution (Barriga 2013). Various strategies need to be adopted by the circular economy like the designs of the products as well as the regional supply chain. The regional supply chain determines the entry of the products into various regions and global markets. The APEC works to develop a regional circular economy by adjusting various industrial structures. APSC is encouraging the internal economies to be less dependent upon the external sources and other states for raw materials (Hekkert 2017). The regional supply chain will help to minimize the uncertainty regarding scarce resources in the country. This forum aims to encourage the regional supply chain in place of the international supply chain as it is very complex. However, to facilitate the transportation of products, APEC encourages facilitating incentives to the supply chain so that the business operations can consider the sustainability of the products and materials they use for their operations.
The regional supply chain management will provide operational efficiency to promote strategic growth in the organization. APEC encourages sustainability by focusing upon extracting resources more sustainably by conserving the energy and managing the flow of supply of goods through the supply chain on a regional basis (Barriga 2013). The regional supply chain is a trade network that works to increase the exports across different geographical proximities and therefore the major agenda of APEC to promote regional supply chain is to bring effectiveness within various stakeholders regarding understanding the importance of sustainability in the raw materials used by them for their operations.
Public-private partnerships support the sustainable development goal with the help of a circular economy. According to the report published by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, this partnership will not only safeguard the environment but will also contribute to growing the economy of the countries by increasing the GDP up to an approximate of 7% in the European Union by the year 2020 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2015). The UNECE committee has been formed for public-private partnerships in the year 2018 in Geneva to discuss strategies for producing more sustainable products. The public-private partnership is a kind of instrument that can make production and consumption more sustainable by introducing various technologies and services to reshape the life cycle of the products. There are various businesses at a global platform that have invested in the direction of sustainable development.
The private sector can itself bring a lot of change in encouraging the circular economy by the partnership with various other private sectors, civil societies, and the governments can help a single private sector to explore various regulatory models (Hekkert 2017). With the help of public-private partnerships, new arrangements and ideas can be explored to minimize the social inequalities, and accordingly, the environment and health of the people affecting from disposing of electronic waste can also be protected. In the year 2015, the European Union had circulated an economy circular package for the production and consumption of electronic waste management with the help of the public partnership model (Hultink 2017).
To appropriately implement a policy framework regarding the circular economy in the country, it is recommended that the criteria must be established for electronic waste. This will help to discard the types of waste which cannot be recycled without using high technology and thereby specific measures can be developed to combat that category of waste. apart from this, the criteria must also be set regarding who has the responsibility to treat that particular criterion of electronic waste, and accordingly the key stakeholders must be located their roles and responsibilities regarding treating the waste or banning the use of such products. Timing is another important element that must be borne in the minds of the stakeholders and the government. For example, it took 3 years by the South Australian government to implement the policies regarding banning landfill activities with electronic waste (Rafiq 2015).
The bans must be designed according to the type of waste produced with the electronic product and accordingly, the region and time must be determined. Apart from this various other principles which need to be adhered to by the government are that the regulatory burden must be minimized particularly in regards to the small business entities. The government must make sure to provide support to search entities to treat electronic waste. Also, the government must ensure that the benefits achieved by recycling electronic waste must outweigh the cost of recycling only then the intention of the circular economy can suffice. The mere formulation of policy framework regarding the safety and health of the people is not sufficient but the development and implementation of such policies must be prioritized by the government.
Therefore it can be concluded that the rise in the use of electronic products and its management for the waste of the same has triggered the issues of the ecosystem and human health across the globe. Therefore it is not only the responsibility of the government to take action to combat the issue of electronic waste and promotion of circular economy but all the stakeholders are equally responsible to take actions to regulate the generation of electronic waste in their entities. APEC has also formulated various programs and projects to encourage the regional supply chain to promote sustainable development in the country. The public-private partnership is also so very important and plays a key role in determining the sustainability programs and methodologies in the operations of various organizations across the globe.
Rafiq, I. 2015. E-Waste Trading Impact on Public Health and Ecosystem Services in Developing Countries. International Journal of Waste Resource, vol. 5, no. 1, pp, 188. doi: 10.4172/2252-5211.1000188
Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 2015. Higher Education Academic Profiles. Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downlo ads/higher-education/HE-Academic-Profiles_V.3.1_July2015.pdf
Hultink, E. 2017. The circular economy - a new sustainability paradigm? Journal of cleaner production, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 757-768.
Barriga, F. 2013. Evidence-based intervention programs to reduce children’s exposure to chemicals in e-waste sites. Discussion paper for WHO Working Meeting on e-waste and children’s health. vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1–90
Reuter, M. 2011. Informal electronic waste recycling: a sector review with special focus on China. WHO, The Geneva declaration on e-waste and children’s health. Waste Management, vol. 3, no. 1, pp.731-741.
Wong, M. 2012. A review of environmental fate, body burdens, and human health risk assessment of PCDD/Fs at two typical electronic waste recycling sites in China. Science of Total Environment, vol. 11, no. 12, pp. 463-464
Nielsen, M. 2019. Clusters in the Circular Economy: Building Partnerships for Sustainable Transition of SMEs. Retrieved from https://www.clustercollaboration.eu/sites/default/files/news_attachment/clusters_in_circular_economy_0.pdf
Hekkert, M. 2017. Conceptualizing the Circular Economy: An Analysis of 114 Definitions. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 221-232.
Circular Economy. 2019. The Circularity Gap Report 2019. Circle Economy. Retrieved from https://bfc732f7-80e9- 4ba1-b429- 7f76cf51627b.filesusr.com/ugd/ad6e59_ba1e4d16c64f4 4fa94fbd8708eae8e34.pdf
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