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MIF-supported project will address e-waste management in the Mexico-U.S border city of Mexicali

Nov 14, 2014

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, recently approved a technical cooperation grant of US$462,000 for a project in Mexicali, Mexico that will address the treatment of hazardous waste from electrical or electronic equipment. The project will  be executed by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), and will improve the management of “e-waste” in the city by increasing public awareness about its hazards, training 500 informal e-waste workers in making their businesses more profitable and sustainable, and facilitating the creation of a modern and efficient e-waste processing plant through a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement.

Waste from electrical and electronic equipment, such as TVs, computers, mobile phones, and other appliances with electrical components, is becoming one of the fastest-growing environmental hazards in the U.S-Mexico border area. Mexicali’s proximity to the U.S facilitates easy access to electronic goods and therefore the accumulation of large amounts of e-waste. However, the city lacks a safe, effective, and sustainable system for managing e-waste. Disposal of e-waste is particularly challenging, as informal recyclers manually disassemble computers, televisions, and other discarded electronics in an effort to salvage components that can be re-sold, thereby exposing themselves, their families, and their communities to hazardous substances like PCBs, cadmium, lead, and mercury.

With the assistance of the MIF and technical support from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), the BECC will first strengthen the current informal value chain by training informal e-waste workers and family microbusinesses that collect and sell e-waste on extraction methods and safe handling, and provide them with better tools and safety equipment. The project will then develop a management model to be used to establish an e-waste processing plant. The processing plant will be run by the municipality, a private company with experience in e-waste regulations, and an association of Mexicali’s informal e-waste recyclers, which will be created with the help of the project. The e-waste processing plant will be R2-certified, meaning it will have an EPA-accredited e-waste certification standard. Finally, BECC will study existing regulations for e-waste and define a proposal for a municipal E-waste regulation aligned with the regulations of the Mexican state of Baja California.

Furthermore, the project will increase awareness of and commitment to appropriate waste management strategies at the household, business, and community levels by training residents in selecting and classifying  e-waste and offering business and technical training to local enterprises created by the project.

The project expects to introduce an innovative model for e-waste management as well as raise awareness of the importance of proper e-waste management among key public institutions in and around Mexicali. In the long term, this project will serve as a model for public-private partnerships, influencing future equitable partnerships in waste and other sectors.

About the MIF

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. More information at  www.fomin.org/

About BECC

The Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), headquartered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuaha, Mexico, is a bi-national institution created in 1993 by the Government of the United States and Mexico, under a side agreement to the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). BECC works to improve systems within the following sectors: water, sewer systems, wastewater treatment, water reuse, storm water systems and solid waste. BECC’s mission is to preserve, protect and enhance the United-States-Mexico Border region by identifying, developing, implementing and overseeing environmental infrastructure projects. More information at: http://www.becc.org/
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