UN debates mobile phone waste hazards

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Mobile phone disposal could well prove to be a major environmental hazard in the near future, unless we act fast to avoid the issue, with a UN delegation meeting in Indonesia to debate the matter.

The disposal of large numbers of unwanted mobiles, with more than three billion of the gadgets currently in use, is to be discussed by over 1,000 delegates from 170 countries at the meeting on the Basel Convention in Bali this week.

The conference organizers said in a statement that the conference is to "consider adopting new sets of guidelines for the environmentally sound management of used and end-of-life mobile phones."

"The use of mobile phones has grown exponentially from the first few users in the 1970s to ... more than three billion in April, 2008. Sooner or later these phones will be discarded, whole or in parts."

Developed world at fault

"Due to its archipelagic nature, with the second longest coastline in the world, Indonesia is vulnerable to illegal traffic of transboundary hazardous waste," said Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat, opening the conference.

"Countries that export their hazardous waste have to be held responsible. There are many cases, such as in Africa, where this waste has killed populations of wildlife like lions and elephants, and even children," he added.

"Developed countries that dump their waste tend to ignore the problem."

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