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Current Environmental Perspectives in Controlling, Handling and Management of Used and Waste Electricals and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) in Small Island States - A Review on Zanzibar

Aboud S. Jumbe

elni Review 2011, Issue 1,  pp. 43-47.

Never before in the history of the islands of Zanzibar has an issue of environmental concern evoked such a passionate debate and been of such controversy as the current problem of unregulated import and selling of Used and Waste Electricals and Electronics Equipment (also known as e-waste). Initially, for many decades since the economic liberalization of the country in 1984, “Second Hand Goods” were mainly understood to be garments, shoes, and the reconditioned Japanese vehicles imported into the country. However, the period between the late 1990s and the beginning of 21st Century saw a new trend of imports where almost all consumer products, particularly the domestic electrical and electronic appliances, were flooded into the local markets from the Far East (China). These mainly included Calculators, Battery Cells, Electronic and Electrical Toys, TV sets, Video Recorders, DVD/CD Players, Radio Sets, assembled desktop computers, etc.
The Zanzibar Chamber of Commerce believes that such imports of used products have improved the living standards of much of the impoverished population of the country, while the Department of Trade complains about its limited mandate in safeguarding the interests of the country’s vulnerable consumers. Who’s on the right side of the debate with respect to this issue? As the debate about how to approach this issue continues, so are the environmental impacts and concerns associated with the unregulated import, handling and final disposal of these products.

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