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Basic Civil and Environmental Engineering (as Per Pune University Syllabus)

Basic Civil and Environmental Engineering (as Per Pune University Syllabus)

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05/18/2013

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Electronic waste or E-waste is a new type of waste that has emerged in the recent years due to

fast developments in the field of electronics, which keeps on changing the configuration and

technology and as a result of that older models of electronic devices become obsolete in a short

span of time. E-waste consists of obsolete telecommunication devices, reprograhic devices, security

devices, automobile devices besides refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves and a myriad of

other electrical and electronic gadgets which add to the waste stream.

In India, the electronic waste management assumes greater significance not only due to the

generation of our own waste but also dumping of e-waste, particularly computer waste from the

developed countries. Manufactures and assemblers are estimated to produce around 1200 tons of

electronic scrap annually. India being a developing country needs to adopt low cost technology

with maximum resource recovery in an environment friendly manner.

IT industry has emerged as the fastest growing segment of Indian industry and its growth

rate is almost double the growth rate of IT industries in many of the developed countries. In the

IT action plan, the government has targeted to increase the present level, from 5 per 500 people

to 1 for 50 people, by 2008.

Out of the nearly five million PCs presently in India, about 1.38 million are either of the old

configuration (486) or even below. So a vast amount of equipment is soon going to be added to

the waste stream, because upgradation beyond a point would not be feasible. Besides this, huge

import of junk computers from other countries in the form of donations or gifts or low cost

reusable PCs are going to create a big solid waste management problem in India. PC scrap in the

form of monitors, printers, keyboards, CPUs, floppies, CDs, typewriters, PVC wires have already

started piling up that are going to increase enormously in the coming years.

E-waste, which on the face of it seems quite clean and safe is not so. Its qualitative

characterisation shows it to be very complex consisting of several hazardous constituents that can

play havoc with our health. These toxic and hazardous substances are as follows:

(i)Lead and cadmium in circuit boards.

(ii)Lead oxide and cadmium in monitor cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

(iii)Mercury in switches and flat screen monitors.

(iv)Cadmium in computer batteries.

(v)Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in older capacitors and transformers.

(vi)And brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards.

(vii)Plastic casings, cables and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cable insulation that release highly

toxic dioxins and furans when burned to recover copper from the wires. After separating

all remaining components, motherboards are put for open pit burning to extract the thin

layer of copper foils laminated in the circuit board.

Disposal and recycling of E-waste:
Disposal and recycling of E-waste:

Disposal and recycling of E-waste:
Disposal and recycling of E-waste:
Disposal and recycling of E-waste:
It has serious legal and environmental implications

due to the toxic nature of the waste. These materials are complex and difficult to recycle in a safe

manner even in developed countries. The recycling of computer waste requires sophisticated

technology and processes, which are not only very expensive, but also needs specific skills and

training for operation.

122

BASIC CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING

Unlike many other countries there are no specific governmental legislations on e-waste,

standards for disposal and proper procedures outlined for handling these toxic hi-tech products.

Consequently, the electronic wastes in our country mostly end up in landfills or are partly recycled

in most unhygienic conditions and partly thrown into waste streams.

In India, most of the recyclers currently engaged in recycling activities are poor people,

mostly women and children, ignorant about the hazardous materials they are handling and have

no access to the expensive technology to handle the waste.

Computer scrap in our country is managed through product reuse, conventional disposal in

landfills, incineration and recycling. However, the disposal and recycling of computer waste in

our country are still not safe and pose grave environmental and health hazards.

The management of electronic waste has to be assessed in the broad framework of Extended

Producer Responsibility and the Precautionary Principle, so that in future policies the producers

should own the responsibility of dealing with the waste management by taking back such wastes

and recycle or reuse them in a safe manner. At present, management options for e-waste are

extremely polluting and hence a cause of grave concern.

CHAPTER

XI

Planning for the Built Environment

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