E-Waste Management: A Profit Making Industry

Hemant Gaule, Anchal Gupta, and Arvind Kumar Mungray* Department of Chemical Engg. Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat395007, India Abstract Over the past two decades, the volume of electrical and electronic waste has increased by less than half a million units annually in the mid-1980s to over twenty million units worldwide by 2007. People are upgrading their electronic devices more frequently than before. Not only is E-Waste being generated at an alarming rate, but it is being handled improperly widely, most of it being dumped or incinerated directly into the environment. The waste contains many valuable substances, some in larger concentrations than their own respective ores; but unfortunately these substances are being extracted by highly inappropriate methods, which result in liberation of many hazardous compounds. E-Waste contains elements that are poisonous carcinogens, and so improper disposal of the waste gives them a dangerous exposure to the environment, since most of these are also quite volatile. If appropriate means are employed to extract these substances, they can produce huge revenues. In other words, recycling is perhaps the most lucrative of all the management options for E-Waste. Creation of such a comprehensive recycling process will involve review of the entire life-cycle of the electronic gadget, right from the materials and processes employed to manufacture it, to its possible use after it’s rendered obsolete. For instance, the knowledge of who are the major producers of E-Waste to where it ends up, how it ends up there and how can it be handled, preferably, recycled after that. Key words: E-Waste; computers; hazards; management; disposal *(corresponding author) Tel.: +91-9904173019 E-mail address: akm@ched.svnit.ac.in; amungray@yahoo.com


1. Introduction E-waste is a popular, informal name for discarded and end-of-life electronic / electrical products. Electronic waste includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones and other items that have been discarded by their original users. While there is no generally accepted definition of electronic waste, in most cases electronic waste consists of electronic products that were used for data processing, telecommunications, or entertainment in private households and businesses that are now considered obsolete, broken, or irreparable. As new technologies and hardware replace the old ones, consumers get a wider choice of, better and relatively cheaper range of electronic goods to buy from. This generates huge amounts of E-Waste. The waste contains many potentially harmful substances, which may cause numerous harms to the environment. Unfortunately, despite of its hazardous content, the waste is treated in such a way that most of the hazardous constituents get easily exposed to the environment. This is mainly because most of the electronic circuits contain valuable elements like gold, platinum and copper, and that too in larger concentrations than their own respective ores which are simply stripped away from the waste and the residue is simply dumped or burned away. For many developed countries, handling the amount of E-Waste that they generate would be costlier than exporting it (sometimes illegally) to other developing/undeveloped countries, (like those of the Indian subcontinent, and Kenya etc.), where a workforce willing to work for low wages in such hazardous conditions is easily available. Moreover, most of this export is illegal. Despite its common classification as a waste, disposed electronics are a considerable category of secondary resource due to their significant suitability for direct reuse (for example, many fully functional computers and components are discarded during upgrades), refurbishing, and material recycling of its constituent raw materials. Reconceptualization of electronic waste as a resource thus preempts its potentially hazardous qualities. Considering all these aspects, the idea of an industry is suggested that efficiently collects and processes E-Waste will not only prevent the hazards that may be caused by improper dumping of E-Waste, but will also produce a whole lot of raw material and therefore, revenue. Creating such an industry will involve contributions of the government, the manufacturer and the consumer. This paper reviews the hazards and possible management options that may be used to cope up with E-Waste 1.1 Quantity of E-waste European studies estimate that the volume of E-waste is increasing by 3% - 5% per year, which is almost three times faster than the municipal waste stream is growing. Today, electronic waste likely comprises more than 5% of all municipal solid waste; that’s more than disposable diapers or beverage containers, and about the same amount as all plastic packaging [1]. Taking computers for instance, newer software rendering the old ones obsolete (software pushing), and cheaper, attractive hardware cause rapid obsolescence of computers. In 1994, it was estimated that approximately 20 million


personal computers (about 7 million tons) became obsolete. By 2004, this figure was to increase to over 100 million personal computers. Cumulatively, about 500 million PCs reached the end of their service lives between 1994 and 2003. 500 million PCs contain approximately 2,872,000 tonnes of plastics, 718,000 tonnes of lead, 1363 tonnes of cadmium and 287 tonnes of mercury [2]. This fast growing waste stream is accelerating because the global market for PCs is far from saturation and the average lifespan of a PC is decreasing rapidly for instance for CPUs from 4–6 years in 1997 to 2 years in 2005 [3]. As in the case of India, it was estimated that obsolete personal computers were around 2.25 million units in 2005, which are expected to touch a figure of 8 million obsolete units by the year 2010 at an average annual growth rate of approximately 51% Considering an average weight of 27.18 kg for a desktop/personal computer approximately 61,155 tonnes of obsolete computer waste would have been generated in India in 2005, which would increase to about 217,440 tonnes by the year 2010 at the projected growth rate [4]. Similarly, for US, it was estimated that 20 million computers became obsolete in 1998, and the overall E-waste volume was estimated at 5 to 7 million tonnes. The figures are projected to be higher today and rapidly growing. A 1999 study conducted by Stanford Resources, Inc. for the National Safety Council projected that in 2001, more than 41 million personal computers would become obsolete in the U.S. Analysts estimate that in California alone more than 6,000 computers become obsolete every day. In Oregon and Washington, it is estimated that 1,600 computers become obsolete each day [5]. To make matters worse, solid waste agencies and recyclers are anticipating a major increase in the volume of computer and TV monitors discarded in the next 5 years. As cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors currently in use will be replaced by smaller, and more desirable liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, this could mean massive dumping of CRT monitors at an even higher rate. This leap in technology is also expected to lead to a significant increase in television disposal. So is the case with every other category of EWaste, which indicates that it is very likely that the quantity of this waste will only increase. 1.2 Composition of E-waste Eectronic waste contains the following elements [6]: • Elements in bulk: Tin, Copper, Silicon, Carbon, Iron and Aluminum, • Elements in small amounts: Cadmium and Mercury, • Elements in trace amounts: Germanium, Gallium, Barium, Nickel, Tantalum, Indium, Vanadium, Terbium, Beryllium, Gold, Europium, Titanium, Ruthenium, Cobalt, Palladium, Manganese, Silver, Antimony, Bismuth, Selenium, Niobium, Yttrium, Rhodium, Platinum, Arsenic, Lithium, Boron, Americium List of examples of devices containing these elements


Almost all electronics contain lead & tin (as solder) and copper (as wire & PCB tracks), though the use of lead-free solder is now spreading rapidly [6]. Some of these substances and the components where they are found are described in Table 1. Recently the Swiss ordinance has been amended (June 2004) to match the EU Directive’s definition of the ten categories listed in Table 2, Categories 1–4 account for almost 95% of the E-waste generated (Fig. 1). According to the definitions in the Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (January 2003) on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment [7], (WEEE/E-waste) consists of the ten categories listed in Table 2. This categorization seems to be in the process of becoming a widely accepted standard. The Swiss Ordinance on the Return, the Taking Back and the Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (ORDEE) of 1998 differentiates between the following categories of E-waste. • Electronic appliances for entertainment; • Appliances forming part of office, communication and information technology; • Household appliances • Electronic components of the (above) appliances Fig. 2 categorizes the waste by the types of materials in it. Metals, as may be expected, form the majority of it. A study by the European Topic Center on Resource and E-Waste Management indicates that iron and steel form almost the half of the metals present in E-Waste, though they’re not at hazardous as many other metals present in it. Fig. 3 further shows the fraction of individual categories of materials present in E-Waste. 1.3 Sources of E-waste Developed countries like US, a few West Asian and European countries, produce enormous amounts of E-Waste every year. Most of this is exported to developing nations like India, China, Pakistan, Malaysia etc. This is because those countries produce so much E-Waste themselves, that exporting it would be much cheaper than managing it themselves. Also, these developing nations have a workforce willing to dispose off the hazardous waste for very low wages. 1.3.1 Generators of Electronic Waste: Electronic waste is generated by three major sectors: Individuals and small businesses: In India, this sectors accounts for about 24% of the total E-Waste generation [9]. Electronic equipment and computers in particular, are often discarded by households and small businesses, sometimes not because they are broken but simply because new technology has left them obsolete or undesirable. Large corporations, institutions, and government: Large users upgrade employee computers regularly. For example, Microsoft, with over 50,000 employees worldwide (some of whom have more than one computer) replaces each computer about every three years. Factories and industries replace the older of their equipment with new ones, causing more E-Waste and so on. Consequently, this sector contributes to about 74% of the total waste generation in India alone [9].


Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs): OEMs generate E-Waste when units coming off the production line don’t meet quality standards, and must be disposed of. It is estimated that around 1050 tonnes per year of waste comes form this sector [9]. 1.4 Destination of E-Waste: The waste is imported by over 35 countries, which include India, China, Pakistan, Malaysia etc. Fig. 4 shows the global E-Waste traffic routes across Asia. The waste generated by the consumers of electronic goods gets collected by scavengers or garbage collectors, and usually gets deported to backyard stripping houses etc, where the potentially valuable substances are separated from the waste and the residue, which may still contain many hazardous (or useful) substances, is dumped or incinerated. 2. Hazards of E-Waste When E-Waste is disposed of or recycled without any controls, there are predictable negative impacts on the environment and human health. E-Waste contains more than 1000 different substances, many of which are toxic, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, hexa-valent chromium, and flame retardants that create dioxins emissions when burned. Generally after being stripped off its valuable content, the residue that’s left behind ends up being burned or thrown away in landfills. Burning the waste exposes its harmful contents directly into the atmosphere, in other words, endangering the plant and animal life living in that atmosphere, whereas, landfill dumping may result in the elements being leached into the soil, and then into the surface/ground water. This affects the flora and the fauna of that environment. The substances liberated in the environment by E-Waste have the following affects on plant and animal lives [10]. • Affect central and peripheral nervous system, • May cause brain damage, • Affect circulatory system, • Show detrimental signs on the growth in plants, • Affect the kidneys, reproductive and the endocrine system, • Shows negative effect on brain development. According to the European Topic Centre on Resource and Waste Management [7], over time, the metal content has remained the dominant fraction, well over 50%, as compared to pollutants and hazardous components which have seen a steady decline. EWaste consists of a large number of components of various sizes and shapes, some of which contain hazardous components. Major categories of hazardous materials and components of E-Waste are shown in Table 3. Some of the elements liberated by EWaste and their health effects are listed in Table 4. 3. E-Waste management It is estimated that 75% of electronic items are stored due to uncertainty of how to manage it. These electronic junks lie unattended in houses, offices, warehouses etc. and normally mixed with household wastes, which are finally disposed off at landfills. This necessitates implement able management measures. However, some already existing 5

modes of disposal cause significant amount of harm to the surrounding ecosystem. Some of these and their consequent harms are listed below [10]: Incineration: Municipal incineration is the largest source of dioxins, and heavy metal contamination. E-Waste on incineration liberate huge quantities of metals, mostly heavy metals in the slag, fly ash, flue gas and in the filter cake of an incinerator. For example, more than 90% of Cadmium put to an incinerator is found in the fly ash and more than 70% of Mercury in the filter cake. Electro-scrap also contains Copper, which is a catalyst for dioxin formation. Hence the incineration may result in generation of extremely toxic polybrominated dioxins (PBBDs) and furans (PBDFs) Landfills: Even highly efficient landfills show signs of leaking. Mercury and certain PCBs from certain electronic devices may leach from landfills, into the soil and groundwater Lead ions have been found to dissolve when mixed with acid waters, which generally occur in landfills. Moreover, vaporization of metallic mercury, dimethyl mercury may also occur from landfills. Uncontrollable fires are a frequent occurrence in many landfills. When exposed to fires, metals and other chemical substances, such as extremely toxic dioxins and furans are also emitted. Recycling: Recycling E-Waste can be a big source of many valuable substances, but they are worth only if they are extracted by proper means. Most of the methods used today for dismantling and disposal of electronic waste are causing more contamination and hazards to the ecosystem. Therefore a suitable alternative is required for these processes. 4. A Proposed Industry This is where the idea of a major, complete recycling industry comes in, an industry equipped with proper collection facility and plan, and better recycling techniques. It will not only diminish the hazards of E-Waste, but also generate a whole lot of raw materials and valuable substances, much cheaper than their original source, and consequently, a lot of revenue. Considering the scale of such an industry, it becomes essential for the government as well as the consumers and the industry to play a hand in its establishment. Following are some of the roles they can contribute as in establishing such a firm [10]. 4.1 Role of the government a) The government should set up regulatory agencies in each district, which are vested with the responsibility of co-coordinating appropriate collection and transport of waste to the industry. This can be done by prohibiting illegal dumping of E-Waste to ensure that nearly all of the waste is recycled. b) The government must encourage research into the development and standard of recycling. c) If at all E-Waste is being imported, it should be ensured that it is for recycling only, and that it does not end up being incinerated or dumped in a landfill. d) Industries should be made to adopt Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which makes it obligatory for them to properly dispose the electronic equipment manufactured by them.


4.2 Role of the consumer Often the consumer is unaware that the electronic equipment he/she uses contains so many hazardous substances, and how easy it is for them to contaminate the environment. Hence, the consumer usually throws it away with domestic waste. If consumers keenly contribute in sending the waste right where it belongs, nearly all of the waste can be recycled. This can be achieved by increasing awareness amongst the consumers, regarding the hazardous of improper dumping of E-Waste and the advantages of recycling it. The consumer can also be of assistance in apt collection of E-Waste by opting to buy electronics from organizations following EPR and/or the Take-Back Policy. This way the consumer, as well as the producer of the electronics can have a fair share in E-Waste recycling. This will also encourage other manufacturers to have a proper plan for used electronics’ disposal. 4.3 Role of other industries a) Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Some countries are implementing policies and programmers to prevent pollution and promote waste minimization. Key among these approaches is the "Extended producer Responsibility" [1]. Its objective is to make manufactures (financially) responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, especially when they become obsolete. The underlying assumption is the company's interest in easier recycling and decomposition, and as such resource use limitation, pollution prevention and waste avoidance through re-use, re-manufacturing and efficient recycling. This policy can facilitate almost complete collection of E-Waste. Many electronic equipment manufacturers provide a “Take-Back” policy by which if the equipment has run its life, or has permanently been defected, the manufacturer takes the equipment back. This way a piece of electronics that might have ended up being disposed off inappropriately, will be delivered to the manufacturer. b) All personnel involved in handling E-Waste in industries including those at the policy, management, control and operational levels, should be properly qualified and trained. c) Electronic equipment manufacturers should encourage their customers to play their role in proper disposal of used electronics. If the manufacturer follows EPR, it will be easier for the same to practice it by providing incentives to its costumers to help the manufacturer out with collection of used electronics after they become obsolete. This way, the consumers can be indirectly made to contribute willingly to the recycling industry. 4.4 Life cycle of E-Waste. To ensure proper and nearly complete collection of used electronic equipments after they are rendered useless, it is important to study the processes which the equipment has


undergone. That is to say, the study of the life cycle of the equipment is equally relevant. The Fig. 5 shows the life span of electronic equipment, taking into account that it may have switched users during the course of its operational life. This course will have to be considered for effective collection so that maximum or all of the E-Waste can be recycled. For instance, computer hardware would appear to have up to 3 distinct product lives: the original life or first product life (when it is being used by the primary user) and up to 2 further lives depending on reuse. Fig. 5 depicts the flow of computer hardware units from point-of-sale to the original purchaser and on to the reuse phases [11]. The duration of the product’s first life is estimated to be between 2 and 4 years for corporate users and between 2 and 5 years for domestic users. The life cycle of computer waste is defined as, the period from when it is discarded by the primary user to when it goes for recycling or is disposed of in a landfill. 4.5. E-Waste Mining; Raw material, not junk. This is the name given to the process where valuable materials such as gold copper iron and plastics are extracted from circuitry of A cell phone contains 5 to 10 times higher gold content than a gold ore. Multiply this with 150,000 tonne of E-Waste generated annually and the numbers are pretty lucrative. In a study conducted by Toxic Link in 2007, it was estimated that the junk thrown away as E-Waste contains more gold, aluminum and copper than found in the ores. In fact, stats show that one tonne of scrap from discarded computers contains more gold than can be produced from 17 tonnes of gold ore. This is not very surprising as E-Waste is often richer in other rare metals as well, containing 10 to 50 times higher copper content than copper ore. According to the same study, about 5 tonnes of E-Waste, which could come from about 183 computers, gives a huge profit of Rs 1,78,308. The math is simple: taking a very conservative estimate of the materials recovered, total value of the recoverable materials from 183 computers will be Rs 2,88,108. The input cost of 183 computers (from various market sources) is approx 183 x 600 (inclusive of logistics) = Rs 1,09,800. This means a good profit margin of almost Rs 1.8 lacs for the recycler. Considering that countries like India not only produce, but import E-Waste, this could be a huge source of revenue [12]. Considering that the figures only for computers are so impressive, it is evident that all the E-Waste combined will generate even more profit. This implicates that a recycling industry or “E-Waste Mining” is a lucrative arena. Such an industry will also offer the following advantages:     Such an industry will give way to Perfect Management of E-Waste. Computers and cell phones, by using the same techniques that miners use to process metal ores As there will be virtually no landfilling or incineration, the hazards to the environment will be avoided. Waste disposal costs will be reduced for organizations handling their own EWaste.


 

It will generate good quantity of raw materials for various other industries. Moreover, the cost of this raw material will be much less than that obtained from its original source. Widely used metals like copper, platinum have to be dug out from their ores. Acquiring them this way will not only be a cheaper, less time consuming mean, but will also result in reduction of waste, and its hazards by reuse. Plastics can be reused relatively many times. So recycling them from E-Waste makes use of this advantage of plastics. It will have better and safer working conditions relative to backyard stripping corporations. This means protected means of dismantling and recycling of EWaste. Such an industry will generate many employment opportunities for people from many disciplines.

The process would broadly classify into the following basic steps; 1. Collection 2. Disassembly 3. Processing/Recovery 4.5.1 Collection For proper and organized waste management, it is necessary to have a favourable collection and transport system for the waste. Right from the point at which it can officially be called waste, till the point where it has been sent for complete recycling. It is hence a necessity to first recognize the sectors that generate E-Waste. • Individuals and Small businesses. All the household electronic appliances plus some of the commercial electronic appliances are discarded here. But the contribution of this sector to the overall production is small. Large Businesses, Government Offices, and various institutes. This sector has the biggest contribution to the gross generation of E-Waste. Almost every category of E-Waste is generated by this sector and on a large scale. This includes educational and medical institutes, offices etc. Original Equipment Manufacturer. If a piece of equipment is found irreparably faulty at the production stage itself, it may be discarded as waste right then and there. Considering the rate at which electrical and electronic equipments are being manufactured today, this sector also becomes a major producer of E-Waste.

The waste from the above mentioned sectors is collected, initially on a smaller scale; one particular area or sector at a time (Primary/ Direct Collection). Usually garbage collectors and scavengers collect the waste directly from these sectors. Secondary collection leads it to the main recycling industry. Hence the secondary collection needs to


be thorough and complete. Hence, the recycling industry needs to facilitate the secondary collection, and if needs be, the government must encourage it. At this stage, the collectors usually choose to transfer the waste to places or recyclers where it is profitable for them. For example, for a country producing E-Waste in large amounts, like USA, it is cheaper to export the waste to other countries. Or it is sent to prisons or any place where the workforce is willing to handle the hazardous waste for very low wages. Either way, the waste ends up in landfills or gets incinerated, and consequently causes contamination. But this is after the hazardous substances have affected the unprotected workers. This means that these prevalent means of disposal harm not only the environment but also the ones who’ve worked on it. It is, therefore, necessary to avoid dismantling of the waste by these means, but to create safer methods of physically dismantling the waste for recycling. Also, even if the waste is to be exported, it should be ensured that it is for proper recycling. At any stage, if it is found that some equipment or a part of its components can be reused, with or without some repair, it is sent for reuse as second hand equipment. The government, therefore, needs to take care of provision of subsidy/other incentives for the recycling industry, as apart from avoiding environmental hazards, it also creates numerous jobs. Also, the government needs to encourage collectors for an efficient collection procedure. 4.5.2 Dismantling This phase involves two major steps; first, breaking down the waste into similar fragments and then separating them, like plastics, metals etc. Then the individual types of materials are further bifurcated by their specific type, like different types of plastics, metals etc. The separation may involve crushing them, for thorough separation. The separated parts are then sent for their respective recycling processes. The E-Waste components are broadly made up of the following materials: • • • • • • Material containing copper: Including printer and other motors, wires and cables, CRT yokes, circuit boards, etc Steel: Including internal computer frames, power supply housings, printer parts, washing machines, refrigerator, etc. Plastic: Including housings of computers, printers, faxes, phones, monitors, keyboards, etc. Glass. Electric equipments like TVs, PCs, have components made of glass. The glass is also physically removed from waste and recycled separately Copper: Extracted from transformer and CRT after their dismantling Circuit Boards: These come from many applications including computers, phones, disc drives, printers, monitors, etc. Each of these processes has been described below. Following describes the conventional way of recycling a personal computer [15].

4.5.3 Processing Dismantled waste can be easily separated according to the materials it is made of. Each individual type of material can be recycled by a respective appropriate way. For instance, 10

for extracting metals from chips and circuit boards, the boards may be crushed and Large Corporations, Individuals and Small Original equipment treated with Business chemicals. Thisgovernment andseparated material is processed with its suitable way each educational manufacturers institutes respective, appropriate technique.
Common pile


Storage Repair Exports

Reusable equipment Domestic Recycling Prisons Landfills, incinerations , etc

For-profit organizations


Non-profit organizations


Reusable Equipment NonRecyclable

Purely Recyclable Waste Physical Dismantlin g

Safe Disposal


Plastic Casings

Circuit Boards, Chips, etc

Wires, Connectors, etc





Meta ls


Meta ls

Glass Processing Metal Processing

Plastic Processing

Primary/Direct Collection Secondary collection

Optional Process/Route

Conclusion The requirement and usage of electronic equipments is increasing day by day, as new, cheaper and better technologies replace the old ones. This renders the old equipments totally useless, and leaving huge amounts of electronic waste behind. However, this waste still has valuable metals and substances that can be used. Consequently, the dismantling and reuse of E-waste components has become quite a lucrative industry. But a only a fraction of the total amount of E-Waste is found to be recycled, and the rest discarded along with domestic waste. By discarding the rest of the waste, not only is the environment being contaminated with hazardous substances, but also many reusable valuable materials get are wasted. The materials recovered from E-Waste are often in richer quantity than their original sources. In addition to that, their recovery is much cheaper as well. Hence E-Waste can be considered to be a rich yet cheap source of many valuable substances like plastics, gold, copper etc. This implies that with better collection and processing techniques, an EWaste recycling industry, set up with contributions from the government and the consumers, can generate remarkable revenue, at the same time providing a sustainable EWaste management technique.


References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Environmental alert bulletin, (2005). www.unep.org Puckett, J. and Smith, T., The Basel Action Network. Seattle7 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, (2002). Culver, J., The life cycle of a CPU, (2005). http://www.cpushack.net/life-cycle-of-cpu.html. Toxics Link. Scrapping the hi-tech myth: computer waste in India, (2003). Exporting Harm, The High-Tech Trashing of Asia, (2002). http://www.crra.com/ewaste/ttrash2/ttrash2/ A featured article on Electronic Waste. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste ETC/RWM. European Topic Centre on Resource and Waste Management (Topic Centre of the European Environment Agency) part of the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET), (2003). http://waste.eionet.eu.int/waste/6 Widmer, R., Oswald-Krapf, H., Sinha-Khetriwal, D., Schnellmann, M., and Boni, H., Global perspectives on E-Waste. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 2, 436-458 (2005). ENVIS Newsletter of the Centre for Environmental Education, 11 (6) (2005). Ramachandra, T.V., and Saira Varghese, K., Envis Journal of Human Settlements, (2004). http://wgbis.ces.iisc.ernet.in/energy/paper/ewaste/ewaste.html Ahluwalia, P.K., Nema, A.K., A Life Cycle Based Multi-objective Optimization Model for the Management of Computer Waste, Resources Conserv Recycl, (2007), in press. A featured article on E-Waste, “E-Waste- Raw Material, Not Junk”, Kavita Kukday, Times Of India (2007) Microelectronics and computer technology corporation (MCC), (1996). Empa. The E-waste guide, (2005) http://www.ewaste.ch. A report on-Assessment of Electronic Wastes, by IRG Systems South Asia Pvt. Ltd. for Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.


Table 1: Hazardous Contents of E-waste [6] Substance Found in Lead Solder, CRT Monitors (Lead in glass), Lead-acid battery. Tin Solder. Copper Copper wires, Printed circuit board tracks. Aluminium Nearly all electronic goods using more than a few watts of power (heatsinks). Iron Steel chassis, cases & fixings. Silicon Glass, transistors, ICs, Printed circuit boards. Nickel & cadmium Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries. Lithium Lithium-ion battery. Zinc Plating for steel parts. Gold Connector plating, primarily in computer equipment. Americium Smoke alarms (radioactive source). Germanium 1950s & 1960s transistorised electronics (transistors). Mercury Fluorescent tubes (numerous applications), tilt switches (pinball games, mechanical doorbells). Sulphur Lead-acid battery. Carbon Steel, plastics, resistors, in almost every electronic equipment.


Table 2: E-Waste Categories [8]
No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Category Large household appliances Small household appliances IT and telecommunications equipment Consumer equipment Lighting equipment Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools) E & E tools Toys, leisure and sports equipment Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products) Monitoring and control instruments Automatic dispensers Label Large HH Small HH ICT CE Lighting E & E tools Toys Medical equipment M&C Dispensers


Table 3: Material used in a desktop computer and the efficiency of current recycling processes [13].


Name Plastics Lead Aluminum Germanium Gallium Iron Tin Copper Barium Nickel Zinc Tantalum Indium Vanadium Terbium Beryllium Gold Europium Titanium Ruthenium Cobalt Palladium Manganese Silver Antinomy Bismuth Chromium Cadmium Selenium Niobium Yttrium Rhodium Platinum Mercury Arsenic Silica

Content (% of total weight) 22.9907 6.2988 14.1723 0.0016 0.0013 20.4712 1.0078 6.9287 0.0315 0.8503 2.2046 0.0157 0.0016 0.0002 0 0.0157 0.0016 0.0002 0.0157 0.0016 0.0157 0.0003 0.0315 0.0189 0.0094 0.0063 0.0063 0.0094 0.0016 0.0002 0.0002 0 0 0.0022 0.0013 24.8803

Recycling Efficiency % 13.8 3.8 8.5 < 0.1 < 0.1 12.3 0.6 4.2 < 0.1 0.51 1.32 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 0 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 0.00096 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 < 0.1 15

Weight of Material (lb) 20 5 80 0 0 80 70 90 0 80 60 0 60 0 0 0 99 0 0 80 85 95 0 98 0 0 0 0 70 0 0 50 95 0 0 0

Use/Location Includes organics, oxides other than silica Metal joining, radiation shield/CRT, PWB Structural, conductivity/housing, CRT, PWB, connectors Semiconductor/PWB Semiconductor/PWB Structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB Metal joining/PWB, CRT Conductivity/CRT, PWB, connectors In vacuum tube/CRT Structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB Battery, phosphor emitter/PWB, CRT Capacitors/PWB, power supply Transistor, rectifiers/PWB Red phosphor emitter/CRT Green phosphor activator, dopant/CRT, PWB Thermal conductivity/PWB, connectors Connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors Phosphor activator/PWB Pigment, alloying agent/(aluminum) housing Resistive circuit/PWB Structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB Connectivity, conductivity/PWB, connectors Structural, magnetivity/(steel) housing, CRT, PWB Conductivity/PWB, connectors Diodes/housing, PWB, CRT Wetting agent in thick film/PWB Decorative, hardener/(steel) housing Battery, glu-green phosphor emitter/housing, PWB, CRT Rectifiers/PWB welding allow/housing Red phosphor emitter/CRT thick film conductor/PWB Thick film conductor/PWB Batteries, switches/housing, PWB Doping agents in transistors/PWB Glass, solid state devices/CRT,PWB

Table 4: Products and Health Effects of E-Waste [10]. Source of E-Waste Constituent 17

Health Effects

Chip resistors and semiconductors.

Cadmium (Cd)

Solder in printed circuit boards, glass panels and gaskets in computer monitors.

Lead (Pb)

Relays and switches, printed circuit boards.

Mercury (Hg)

Plastic housing of electronic equipments and circuit boards. Front panels of CRTs

Brominated flame retardants (BFR) Barium (Ba)

Toxic irreversible effects on human health.  Accumulation in kidney and liver.  Causes neural damage  Teratogenic.  Damage to central and peripheral nervous system and kidney damage.  Affects brain development of children  Chronic damage to the brain  Respiratory and skin disorders due to bioaccumulation in fishes. Disrupts endocrine system functions.  Short term exposure causes:  Muscle weakness;  Damage in heart liver and spleen  Carcinogenic (lung cancer)  Inhalation of fumes and dust. Causes chronic beryllium disease or beryllicosis.  Skin diseases such as warts. Burning produces dioxins, it causes:  Reproductive and developmental problems;  Immune system damage;  Interference with regulatory hormones.  Asthmatic Bronchitis  DNA damage


Beryllium (Be)

Cabling and computer housing

Plastics including PVC

Corrosion protection of untreated and galvanized steel plates, decorator or hardner for steel housing

Hexavalent Chromium VI (Cr)


Toys , 0.20% E&E Tools, 1.40% Lighting, 1.40% CE, 13.70%

Medical, 1.90%

M&C, 0.10% Dispensers, 0.70%

Small HH, 4.70%

Large HH, 42.10%

ICT, 33.90%

Fig. 1. Composition of WEEE for Western Europe [8]


Printed Circuit Boards, 1.71%

Others, 1.38% Pollutants, 2.70%

Screens (CRT and LCD), 11.87%

Cables, 1.97%

Metal-Plastic Mixture, 4.97% Metals, 60.20%

Plastics, 15.21%

Fig. 2. Material Fraction in E-waste [14]


Composition (Weight %)
Iron and Steel Non-flame retarded plastic Copper Glass 7 5.4 5.3 4.7 3.1 4.6 2.6 2 1 0.9 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 15.3 47.9


Flame retarded plastic Aliminum Printed circuit boards Other Wood and plywood Concrete and ceramics

Other metals (Non-ferrous) Rubber

Fig. 3. E-waste Composition [7].


Fig. 4 Asian E-Waste Traffic [1]


Product Manufacturer Material Recycle

Primary User


Second User


Third/ Fourth User



Life Cycle Of Waste

Fig. 5. Flow of E-waste During Its Life Cycle [11]


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