Ecotechnology can be defined as any method, product, device, or process whose value lies on its potential to contribute to improving the quality of life and have a positive environmental impact. The potential to combat climate change of ecotechnologies lies in their ability to replace the use of non-renewable energy sources, promote forest conservation, reduce dependence on centralized water systems, reduce and use waste, among other benefits.
Mexico is the second WEEE generator in Latin America, registering a production of 1.1 million tons in 2016, equivalent to 8.2 kg per capita. According to the Office of Science and Technology Information for the Mexican Congress (Oficina de Información Científica y Tecnológica para el Congreso de la Unión; INCyTU 2018), of the total WEEE generated nationwide, about 10% is recycled, 40% remains stored in residential houses or warehouses and the remaining 50% is sent to landfills.
Despite the importance of the problem, this country does not have a specific regulation focused on the recycling of electronic waste. What is available is the General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Waste (Ley General para la Prevención y Gestión Integral de los Residuos; (LGPEGIR), which defines WEEEs as technological waste and classifies them as special handling waste, therefore, the states and municipalities are in charge of their prevention, transport, storage, handling, treatment, and final disposal. This law only defines the classification of waste, but does not assign clear responsibilities for its management and hence provides an opening for an informal market.
According to authorities of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), only 8 of the 32 states have regulations related to WEEE management. On the other hand, in Mexico, apart from the local government, the private sector can collect and manage WEEE. In 2017, SEMARNAT with other institutions identified 153 companies nationwide with an authorized capacity of 235,859 tons of WEEEs.
Therefore, under this scenario, Mexico does not have enough formal infrastructure to take charge of its WEEEs which encourages the existence of an informal sector in the main cities of the country of which little is known.
In consequence, the German-Mexican Alliance from the German Cooperation for Sustainable Development (IKI Alliance) has been given the task of conducting an analysis of WEEE recycling with emphasis on entertainment devices (televisions, computers, and cell phones) with the objective of generating a series of public policy recommendations that allow the Mexican government to leverage on the existing efforts, and with this, build a responsible system that encourages the sustainable consumption of these devices, as well as their adequate disposition at the end of their useful life. The results of this analysis will be presented to SEMARNAT and other relevant institutions in November 2019.