KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government will be "looking very seriously" at developing an electronic waste (e-waste) policy and creating an industry dealing with the management and recycling of this refuse.
He said given the practice of firms worldwide, particularly in the United States and in Europe, disposing of old computers in other countries, the Minister contended that 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 wherein Government says that electronic waste is becoming a public issue, let us develop a policy on e-waste,” he suggested.
Mr. Holness was speaking at the official opening of a technology centre at the Penwood High School in Kingston, on August 18.
In the case of Jamaica, the 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.
Mr. Holness said the 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.
The Minister pointed out that with 1.7 billion cell phones being sold each year, and over 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.
Under the project, Camara Jamaica Foundation, provides training in computer repairs and refurbishing for mainly the Ministry of Education's Career Advancement Programme (CAP) participants who provide the necessary staffing required to process the computers that are distributed to educational institutions across the island.
A volunteer-driven entity, Camara International, whose mission is to use technology to deliver and improve education throughout the world,has already set up e-learning centres in about 1,000 schools in Africa and Ireland.
The goal of the local arm of the company is to provide over 10,000 computers a year to educational facilities which will be sold to the schools at a minimal cost to recover overhead expenses, such as training. The Camara Jamaica Foundation was incorporated in December 2010.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter