ITU intros new standards to tackle e-waste and energy efficiency

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ITU’s expert group on green ICT has formulated new standards including an environmentally friendly universal charger for laptops as well as other portable devices (ITU-T L.1002), and a standard for green batteries for smart phones and other handheld ICT devices (ITU-T L.1010).

Additionally experts have agreed on a standardized methodology for manufacturers to report the quantity of rare metals contained in their ICT devices (Recommendation ITU-T 1101) – something that will increase the efficiency of recycling schemes.

Specifically designed to reduce e-waste and increase usability, ITU-T L.1002 is an international standard for a universal power adapter (UPA) for portable devices, including notebooks, which complements the recently announced IEC/Technical Specification 62700/Ed1 by adding a number of environmentally friendly requirements.

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The ITU standard addresses energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, specifies eco-design, resistibility, a no-load power requirement and optimizes the use of scarce and raw materials.

During the same meeting, ITU-T experts also agreed a test suite (ITU-T L.1005), which provides a full suite of tests to check for conformance to ITU-T L.1000, the standard for a universal mobile phone charger. The suite was developed in response to the European Parliament Radio Equipment Directive, which requires all mobile phones to be compatible with a universal charger.

Hamadoun I. Touré, secretary general, ITU: “Standardized solutions will be a key way to reduce e-waste, an increasingly intractable problem, particularly for the developing world. This fact is emphasized by last week’s report from the UN’s StEP initiative, which predicts a growth of 33 per cent in the global volume of electronic waste in the next four years.”

ITU is a partner of StEP, a multistakeholder initiative, which aims to tackle the e-waste problem by advocating policy change, redesign, reuse and recycling.

In addition to the charger standards, the ITU experts meeting in Lima, Peru, agreed on a new standard (ITU-T L.1010) that defines a minimum set of parameters for green batteries that should reduce the future environmental impact of battery use.

The ITU-T Recommendation includes environmental considerations in the upstream supply chain, reliability and eco-design guidelines to help ensure longer lasting batteries with a reduced environmental impact over the entire life cycle, without compromising product safety.

An additional result of ITU-T’s Study Group 5 meeting which took place in Lima from 2 to 13 December 2013, and was kindly hosted by the government of Peru, was a standard that provides manufacturers of ICT goods with efficient ways of reporting their use of rare metals and other recyclable elements in their products in order to achieve successful recycling schemes.

A standardized method of measuring rare metals is needed to give consistency in the supply chain. Moreover, it is hard to distinguish rare earth elements contained in rare metals because they have similar chemical properties.

ITU-T’s work on e-waste is driven by Resolution 79 adopted at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (Dubai, 2012), which instructs ITU-T Study Group 5 to develop recommendations, methodologies and other publications relating to handling and controlling e-waste resulting from telecommunications/ICT and methods of treating it.

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