The Hon. Pennelope Beckles: Collection Drive for the Project “Demonstration of the Environmentally Sound Management of Used and End-of-Life Mobile Phones in Trinidad and Tobago

 

Friday May 27, 2022

Remarks by the Honourable Pennelope Beckles

Minister of Planning and Development

 

At the Launch: "Collection Drive for the Project “Demonstration of the Environmentally Sound Management of Used and End-of-Life Mobile Phones in Trinidad and Tobago”

 

Good morning to everyone in attendance today.

 

It is my pleasure to address you all as we launch the Collection Drive for the Project “Demonstration of the Environmentally Sound Management of Used and End-of-Life Mobile Phones in Trinidad and Tobago” as part of the Ministry of Planning and Development’s activities through the BCRC Caribbean celebrations for World Environment Day 2022, the theme of which is: Only one Earth - with the focus on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”.

 

On behalf of the Ministry of Planning and Development, I wish to congratulate the team at the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean), for bringing this initiative to this milestone. This project is geared to meet the following objectives:

  • To demonstrate the Technical Guidelines for the Transboundary Movement of e-waste developed under the Basel Convention in Trinidad and Tobago;
  • To demonstrate the Mobile Phone Partnership Institute’s Guidance Document on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of end-of-life (EOL) and used mobile phones using a local internationally-certified e-waste recycling company;
  • To assess the national technical and infrastructural capacity for the recovery of waste mobile phones and for the refurbishment of non-waste mobile phones;
  • To provide clear recommendations for policy makers in Trinidad and Tobago on the implementation of a national model for the environmentally-sound management of the mobile-phone waste stream;
  • To develop communication products in order to stimulate behavioural change in Trinidad and Tobago as it relates to the environmentally-sound management and end-of-life and used mobile phones, thereby preventing the landfilling of used mobile phones and increasing the opportunities for refurbishment and re-use.

This programme certainly demonstrates our efforts towards the attainment of theme 5 of the National Development Strategy, Vision 2030: Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development. One of the fundamental goals of this theme, is the establishment of a comprehensive waste and pollution management system.

 

To achieve this goal, our focus must be placed on improving solid waste disposal and creating strategies for effective implementation of our international commitments for chemicals and waste, in order to improve management systems for pollution.

 

Today, we are here to witness solid evidence of collaboration across the Ministries and agencies present here (BCRC, EMA, SWMCOL, EPPD, CANTO, AND the Private sector, through the auspices of Digicel and Bmobile,) as we strive to ensure wise use of resources for the greater good of our environment and the protection of our health.

 

As we continue our move towards a digitalised society, we must also understand that such progress should not come at the price of the environment. As a people, it is essential for us to develop a culture of environmental consciousness, through conservation and preservation of our natural assets and our own health. To achieve this, it is essential for us to control waste by reducing, reusing and recycling our materials, and by managing chemical, electronic and hazardous waste, to reduce pollution and sources of pollutants.

 

This project clearly shows that we are leading the way, by recognising that the environment supports all other sectors in society, which in turn, contribute to social and economic development. The risks posed by environmental mismanagement will be to the detriment of our society, as our food security, human health, and our livelihoods come under threat, amongst others. Therefore, it is crucial that we work towards an environment with clean air, clean water and green spaces, all of which impact positively on our quality of life.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a technological age which comes with an ever-changing and advancing range of gadgets such as mobile phones, to provide us easier, faster and more effective communication. Can we even image a world without these devices? Some of us can and some of us cannot. But let us think for a moment: Is the irresponsible use, management and disposal of these conveniences worth the irreparable damage to our environment for future generations?

 

No, it is not!

 

So, let us set the example and encourage our families, friends and communities to participate in this collection drive, to ensure that our mobile phones are properly disposed of, in order to save and maintain our precious environment.

 

I understand that the Centre has a surprise for us in launching the mobile collection drive – as they will be launching the accompanying mascots for this campaign. We look forward to meeting them and hope that they can spread the word about the environmentally sound management and disposal of mobile phones, and ensure that we all become agents of change in our communities, in keeping with Vision 2030 Theme 5; “We will create a culture that engenders an attitude of environmental consciousness and esteems conservation and preservation of our national assets, be they man made or natural”.

 

This effort is also a significant exercise in our commitment towards the achievement of global Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

 

Why is this important?

 

The contribution of smartphones to global e-waste stands at approximately 10%, a quantity, which according to the World Economic Forum, was estimated to weigh more than 50 million tonnes globally in 2019. This indicates the waste streams created every year by smartphones and similar devices. These streams are both highly polluting and highly wasteful. Further, the potential value of raw materials in e-waste was recently valued at fifty-seven million US dollars (US$57 million) across the world. Meanwhile, recycling rates across electronics stood at only 17% in 2019, meaning that the vast majority of this value is not being reaped. This opens up other opportunities in the waste recycling sector for Trinidad and Tobago.

 

So, while recycling smartphones is required when phones truly reach their end-of-life stage, keeping phones in use for longer and therefore minimising the number which actually need to be recycled, keeps materials in use for longer, reduces waste streams, and means less energy is required for recycling processes.

 

However, if we do have to get rid of our devices at the end of their life cycles, utilising the service launched here today by the BCRC-Caribbean has so many benefits for our thrust towards proper waste and environmental management. I therefore urge citizens to utilise the ten (10) soon-to-be-announced collection bins, which will be strategically placed across Trinidad and Tobago.

In closing, it would be negligent of me to not congratulate the BCRC Caribbean on its portfolio of projects here in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in the rest of the Caribbean, and its being able to bring financing in excess of twenty million US dollars to our region, for waste and chemical management. To the BCRC Team, keep up your excellent work.

 

In the universe are billions of galaxies,
In our galaxy are billions of planets,
But there is #Only One Earth.
Let’s take care of it.

 

Do your part!

 

Thank you.