IGF 2021 WS #231 E-Waste Management - How do we achieve a Circular Economy?

Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (09:30 UTC)
Conference Room 4

Organizer 1: Shu Lam Lau, V'air Hong Kong
Organizer 2: Tsz Kiu Claire Cheng, V'air Hong Kong
Organizer 3: Tin Lam Chan, V'air Hong Kong

Speaker 1: Sum Yue Chung, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Pak Yin, Edward Choi, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Ho yee hollie Chung, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Dea Wehrli, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Tin Lam Chan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Tsz Kiu Claire Cheng, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Shu Lam Lau, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Increasing awareness and proactiveness among policymakers and developers: How do we ensure that technology developers, digital corporations, policy makers and policy processes consistently consider the impact of the Internet and digitalisation on sustainability and climate change?
Reducing impact: How can we achieve a net zero impact on climate change of the further expansions of the Internet and its infrastructure? How can Internet standards, governance and policy choices, and standards for device design, development and manufacture, contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the Internet (e.g. through the adoption of green computing, energy efficient servers and machines/processes, and by policy contributions)? How can we further use digital technologies to better predict and manage the impacts of climate change?

Additional Policy Questions Information: How do we ensure that technology developers, digital corporations, policy makers and policy processes consistently consider the impact of the digital waste on sustainability and climate change? How can government standards and policy choices, and standards for device design, development and manufacture, contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the Internet?

Sustainable cities, digital waste, environmental sustainability, sustainable exploitation of natural resources for digital technologies, climate change


12. Responsible Production and Consumption

Targets: 3.9 [By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination] Improper digital waste management will result in human health risks as many chemicals and metals in the devices are toxic. They might also be one of the sources of water and soil pollution. Therefore, reduction of digital waste dumping through achieving a circular economy will reduce the number of illness from exposing to hazardous chemicals and water and soil pollution. 8.4 [Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead.] Producing a piece of digital device requires a lot of resources - rare earth metals, plastic etc. As many developed countries' consumers often dump their devices without attempting to send for repairing, the device is usually considered as 'waste' when there's value in them. Thus, resulting in environmental degradation as well as human health risks. Therefore, a circular economy is encouraged to close the loop - reducing the exploiting of natural resources and unsustainable dumping of digital waste. 11.6 [By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management] Waste management has been an important issues of many cities. Due to increasing human activities and the higher affordability of digital devices, more and more people have their own digital devices. This results in higher amount of digital waste. Moreover, as many digital waste are chemically hazardous, it is important to implement suitable waste management strategies thus reducing waste to prevent its negative impacts. 12. [Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns] Many components of digital devices are made of rare natural resources. It is important to treasure them and make fully use of them before disposal of the devices to reduce the level of exploitation of natural resources. Therefore, the workshop aims to promote circular economy at the digital waste industry.


According to the United Nations International Communication Units (UNITU), a record of 53.6 million metric tonnes (mt) of e-waste was disposed of in 2019, only 17.45 are formally reused and recycled. Alongside the increasing economic activities in developing countries, the amount of e-waste disposed of is estimated to reach 74 million mt by 2030; Circular economy is a business model that turns goods that are at the end of their service life into resources for others, closing loops in industrial ecosystems and minimizing waste (Stahel 2016). In Delhi, much of the informal sector was to repair digital waste that is ‘sent’ from developing countries to India. By doing so, they have created new economic values for the digital waste, thus providing an income for themselves. However, handling e-waste without adequate equipment and knowledge will result in environmental pollution and human health risks as many of the metals are toxic. Moreover, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals are forced to work from home. This led to an increasing demand for digital devices, thus at the same time produces wastes. In this connection, what should governments, academia and civil society do so that we can achieve a safe and circular economy of digital waste management? The purpose of the workshop is to take stock of the outstanding knowledge and expertise of different stakeholders across the world for sustainable waste management and environmental protection. Furthermore, through breakout room discussions on different policies case studies with speakers, participants will also explore the most suitable method to boost circular economy and safe digital waste management.

Expected Outcomes

From civil society to academia, from government officials and to the business sectors, the workshop aims to include different stakeholders on digital waste management as it is a relatively new topic in the IGF. Through panel discussions, it also hopes to discover the most suitable model for multi-level collaboration regarding achieving circular economy in the digital waste management sectors. We hope the participants will be able to gain insights and bring them back to their mother countries and companies, to achieve sustainable digital waste management together.

Prior to the panel discussion and breakout room discussions, several rounds of pre-IGF workshops and introductory sessions will be held. We hope to allow speakers to get to know each other more, and prepare for their sharing during the workshop to avoid clashing of ideas. At the same time, moderators could coordinate the role of each speaker based on their prepared materials. For the workshop, not only panel discussion for each speaker to share their experience and knowledge with participants, but also there will be three rounds of breakout sessions led by the speakers. Participants who are both joining in person and online will be divided into three groups with one to two speakers in each. Other than that, organisers will distribute case studies analysis on digital waste management strategies and a question bank before the workshop, so that speakers can take notes and allow an effective discussion to help summarise the outcomes. Other than that, as there will be in person and online discussions occurring at the same time, both on-site and online moderators will need to have effective communication to ensure a smooth run-down of the workshop. Moreover, to engage with all participants efficiently, third-party applications such as Kahoot and post-workshop networking sessions will be utilised. Also, participants will be allowed to submit their questions before the workshop so speakers will be able to prepare and address the questions during the workshop. Questions and comments will be alternated between the in-person microphone queue and the online queue.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Kahoot! will be used to increase the engagement rate of all participants who are attending in-person and online.