BCRC-Caribbean 'Pardon the E-waste Interruption' at the 30th AGM of the Caribbean Network of Telecommunications Operators

The BCRC-Caribbean was invited to participate in the 30th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Caribbean Network of Telecommunications Operators (CANTO). The event was organised by the CANTO Secretariat in collaboration with the Caribbean’s largest telecommunications company, LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile, Entertainment) and was held from 25th to 28th January, 2014 at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

In light of its most recently established committee; the Working Committee for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and the identification of the issue of handset disposal as a key item for the CSR agenda among CANTO members, CANTO initiated contact with the BCRC-Caribbean to incorporate discussion of the e-waste issue at its 30th AGM. Subsequent to initial discussions throughout the last quarter of 2013, the BCRC-Caribbean was invited to hold an e-waste forum as part of the AGM’s proceedings.

Further to this, the BCRC-Caribbean, represented by Ms. Jonelle Jones (Research Analyst) and Ms. Khaliqa Mohammed (Research Assistant) of the Centre, was also invited to participate in the rest of the agenda items for the entire proceedings of the AGM. The activities included face-to-face meetings of the 6 working committees, meeting of the Board of Directors and presentations and reports made by the Secretariat and committees to the participants. The agenda also included several technical sessions and presentations on ICT trends and development in the region and a mini exhibition from ICT service providers.

The proceedings of the first day consisted of meetings of the various working committees. The BCRC-Caribbean was invited to listen in on these meetings, especially those which were relevant to the issue of e-waste generation and management. These included the meetings of the committees for Regulation and Emerging Technology, Disaster Recovery Planning and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Ms. Jones addresses the issue of the
ESM of WEEE at the CSR Committee's
At the meeting of the CSR Committee, Ms. Jones of the BCRC-Caribbean was invited to share her knowledge on ESM guidelines and practices for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). She mentioned guidelines for best practice that have already been established including the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative (MPPI) guidelines on the environmentally ESM of telecommunications equipment. She highlighted that there is a role for the ICT community in the collection of used and end of life (EoL) telecom equipment to facilitate their environmentally sound management.

Day 2 began with the presentation of Committee Reports by the Committee Chairs. This was followed by administrative matters namely presentations of the Secretariat Report and Chairman's Report for 2013, as well as technical sessions on technology trends and opportunities for financing broadband infrastructure in the Caribbean.

Day 3 commenced with the e-waste forum, “Pardon the e-waste interruption!”. The presenters at this forum were Ms Jonelle Jones and Ms Khaliqa Mohammed of the BCRC-Caribbean. The intent of the forum was to relay information on e-waste and its management to ICT stakeholders and to encourage discussions on the potential roles of the ICT community in ensuring the ESM of this hazardous waste stream.

Ms. Mohammed speaking about the 
Trinidad & Tobago WEEE Assessment
at the e-waste forum 
Ms Jones began by providing some background information on e-waste. She explained what  constitutes e-waste and outlined the hazards associated with this waste stream. She then delved into some global actions on e-waste and the current status of e-waste management in the Caribbean.To bolster the discussion on the regional status of e-waste, Ms Mohammed presented on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Data & Management Assessment for Trinidad and Tobago which was conducted by the BCRC-Caribbean in 2013.

Mr. Julian Wilkins (Digicel, TT)
poses a question at the e-waste
The details of the assessment including its findings, and recommendations to improve the local management of e-waste, were relayed to the stakeholders present.  Building on the recommendations of the assessment, Ms. Jones then presented on the constraints and opportunities for improving the regional status of e-waste management. She identified the actions that are needed in order to achieve progress in the sound management of WEEE at the regional level including the key role to be played by regimes operating along the EEE life-cycle, for example the ICT sector and other major users and proponents of EEE.

On convening the presentations, questions were invited from the audience of CANTO members. The questions that were posed focused on guidelines on the ESM of WEEE that are currently available and how these guidelines can be accessed. Additionally, a question arose as to the connections between various certification schemes available such as ISO and R2, and which schemes would be more applicable or useful to the ICT industry. Comments that were made by the stakeholders present related to the need for business plans and ideas for entrepreneurial investment to be made available to ICT companies and stakeholders. These would outline the scale and possible revenues to be received from take-back and recycling schemes and would incentivise private investment.

Following the e-waste forum, a presentation was made on Americas Spectrum Issues and CANTO administrative matters were addressed in the afternoon session. The AGM was officially closed with a closing function on the night of the 28th January, 2014.

Panel at the e-waste forum; presenters Ms. Jones and
Ms. Mohammed, and Chair, Ms. Regenie Fraser
Photos from CANTO's 30th AGM may be viewed at CANTO's facebook page