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The Vanishing e-Wastes of the Philippines

A Report by Ban Toxics


June 2011

Authors:

Richard Gutierrez
Gabrielle Agarrado

Researchers:
Cherry Anne Oracion
Rey Palacio
Jun Felix
Thony Dizon
Aileen Lucero
Gie Relova
Kris Peralta
Iori Espiritu
Joel Escandor
Totoy Quijano
Acknowledgements
To the Communities of Pier 18 (especially Ka Louie and Family)
Paradise Heights, Manila and Dreamland Cavite
Foundation for the Philippine Environment
EcoWaste Coalition
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia
Greenpeace Philippines
Mother Earth Foundation
Basel Action Network

Photo Credits
Images by Ban Toxics!

Support
This report was prepared with the support of the EcoWaste Coalition
BOEXJUImOBODJBMGVOEJOHGSPNUIF'PVOEBUJPOGPSUIF1IJMJQQJOF
Environment and the Basel Action Network.

Disclaimer
The study has been researched and prepared by Ban Toxics! with all
reasonable care and due diligence. The study does not necessarily
SFnFDUUIFWJFXTPGUIF'PVOEBUJPOGPS1IJMJQQJOF&OWJSPONFOU BOEUIF
author is entirely responsible for its accuracy. Any third party who rely
on information contained in this report, or their own interpretation thereof,
do so at their own risk.
For more information visit: www.bantoxics.org

http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

Executive Summary
Electronic waste or e-Waste is a crisis borne by volume
and toxicity. A 2005 study on the current and future
quantity of e-waste in the Philippines estimates that approximately 2.7 million units of televisions, refrigerators,
air conditioners, washing machines and radios became
obsolete by the end of 2005, with around 1.8 million units
JRLQJWRODQGOOV)URPWRDSSUR[LPDWHO\
25 million units became obsolete, with an additional 14
million units projected to follow the same route by 2010.
E-waste generation becomes more pronounced in developed countries.
,QWHUPVRIWR[LFLW\VWXGLHVKDYHUPO\HVWDEOLVKHGWKH
toxic constituents of e-waste from lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, several forms of brominated
DPHUHWDUGDQWVMXVWWRQDPHDIHZ7KHWR[LFLW\RI
these substances affects both humans and wildlife and
the persistence of some of these toxins in the environment make them even more dangerous.
E-wastes in the Philippines come from two sources: locally generated and foreign e-wastes. Locally generated
e-waste comes from new products that are distributed
in the local market that are eventually are eventually
GLVSRVHGRIE\FRQVXPHUV)RUHLJQJHQHUDWHGHZDVWH
comprise of two distinct categories:
End-of-life products or products that have been disposed
of at the country of export and e-waste per se.
7KHVWXG\XQFRYHUHGWKDWVKLSPHQWVRIXQXVHGHOHFWURQLFVDUHRIWHQXQFODVVLHGDQGERXJKWE\PHUFKDQWV
without knowing fully well the status of the electronic
HTXLSPHQWLQWKHVKLSPHQW%DQ7R[LFVLQYHVWLJDWLRQ
revealed that as much as 50% of the shipment at times
contains e-waste.
When these materials enter the country or are disposed
RIWKHUHLVDQHIFLHQWV\VWHPWKDWUHWULHYHVWKHHZDVWH
for processing and recycling. Informal waste pickers
play a great role in segregating and manually separating
these wastes. Unfortunately, some practices at this level
are environmentally unsound that it exposes both waste
pickers and the community to the toxicity in e-wastes.
Open burning of PVC coated plastics, breaking and
GXPSLQJRIOHDGHG&57JODVVXVHRIWR[LFDFLGVRQ
printed circuit boards, and the cutting and shredding of
SODVWLFVFRDWHGZLWK%)5VDUHVRPHRIWKHKLJKO\HJUHJLRXVSUDFWLFHVWKDW%7GRFXPHQWHGLQWKHFRXUVHRIWKH
study.

Exacerbating the situation is the widespread poverty


that holds the waste pickers and pushes them to search
IRUUHF\FODEOHPDWHULDOVDPLGVWWKHWR[LQV7KHUHLVDQ
expected increase in the informal recycling of e-waste as
commodity prices such as gold continue to rise, as well
as the poverty level. In addition to these challenges the
continued rise in e-waste generation and export from developed countries puts developing countries, such as the
Philippines in a precarious situation wherein they have
become e-waste processors for foreign e-wastes.
In its role as a re-processing facility unrecyclable and
toxic residuals are ultimately left behind in the Philippines. Effective international intervention in the form of
toxic waste trade bans is needed. Without effective international action to stem e-waste and toxic waste trade the
burgeoning problem of e-waste management will greatly
fall on developing countries.
In addition to this step there are other steps that we as a
society can take to address e-waste:

Solutions at the Individual/Community


1. Consumer Research. Consumers must purchase
wisely. Know which companies produce safe and
environmentally sustainable electronic gadgets. Visit
websites such as those set up by Greenpeace particularly their Guide to Greener Electronics, a guide
that ranks the top electronics manufacturers according to their policies on toxics, recycling, and climate
FKDQJH7KHJXLGHLVDYDLODEOHDWKWWSZZZJUHHQSHDFHRUJLQWHUQDWLRQDOFDPSDLJQVWR[LFVHOHFWURQLFV
KRZWKHFRPSDQLHVOLQHXS
2. Purchase electronics that have the RoHS and
:(((ORJRV7KLVPHDQVWKDWWKHHTXLSPHQWFRPSOLHVZLWKWKH(XURSHDQ8QLRQV5HVWULFWLRQRI+D]ardous Substances directive, which means these do
not contain mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated biphenyl
ethers common toxins found in electronic gadgets.
%X\HQHUJ\HIFLHQWHOHFWURQLFSURGXFWV/RRNIRUWKH
(QHUJ\6WDURUWKHHQHUJ\HIFLHQF\UDWLR ((5 
4. Look for brands with good warranty and take-back
policies.
5. Go for quality, not quantity! Avoid buying very cheap
items in bulk. Most of these items will wear out after a
few months.
6. Concerned agencies and groups must assist in
the provision of alternative livelihood projects for
the large community involved in informal e-waste
processing.
7KHFRQVXPLQJSXEOLFPXVWEHQRWLHGRIWKHULVNV
posed by chemicals, which may possibly be in the
electronics they purchase and use.

National and International Solutions


5DWLFDWLRQRIWKH%DVHO%DQ$PHQGPHQW7KH
Philippine government, as well as international
JRYHUQPHQWVVKRXOGSXVKIRUWKHUDWLFDWLRQRIWKLV
sorely needed international amendment.
(QDFWOHJLVODWLRQWKDWLQVWLOOVH[WHQGHGSURGXFHU
responsibility on electronics products similar to the
:((('LUHFWLYHRI(XURSH7KLVOHJLVODWLRQPXVW
become the industry norm for both local and global
electronics manufacturers.
10.Enact legislation requiring electronics producers
selling, manufacturing, or distributing products in the
Philippine market to sell products that are free from
mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and
%)5VVLPLODUWRWKHUHVWULFWLRQVLPSRVHGE\WKH(8
under their ROHS Directive. After all, the health of
)LOLSLQRVLVDVLPSRUWDQWDVWKRVHRI(XURSHDQVDQG
governments and manufacturers should not favor one
over the other.

Introduction
In 2003, 6,720 metric tons of solid waste was generated daily in Metro Manila alone. Of this amount, only
5,600 metric tons entered the municipal collection
system for disposal reportedly at nine dumpsites all
over the metropolis. The rest were dumped illegally
on private lots and bodies of water, or burned. This
municipal solid waste is generated by residential
sources (48%), informal settlers (26%), and commercial and industrial sources (26%). Currently,
over 12,000 scavengers, waste pickers and informal
recyclers make their living off this waste.
While decaying regular municipal waste household
and
organic garbage could be a nuisance and dangerous if not properly managed, todays rapidly shifting
trends in consumer preferences and planned obsolescence of electronics goods
are giving rise to another kind of wastediscarded
electronic equipment called electronic waste, or ewaste. Large volumes of this obsolete and end-of-life
equipment such as computers, televisions and mobile
phones are piling up in landfills not only in the Philippines but also across the globe. In fact, experts
estimate that 20 to 50 million tones of e-waste are
generated worldwide every year, comprising more
than 5 percent of all municipal solid waste.
Ban Toxics! (BT) conducted this study to learn more
about the e-waste phenomenon in the Philippines.

What is e-waste?
E-waste is a term commonly used to represent almost
all types of electrical and electronic equipment that
has entered or could enter the waste stream. Under
UIJTHFOFSBMEFmOJUJPO OFBSMZBOZIPVTFIPMEPSCVTJness tool that contains electrical circuitry components
or requires electric power or battery supply can be
considered as e-waste. Examples of e-waste include
television sets, computers, mobile phones, home entertainment and stereo systems, and kitchen appliances
such as refrigerators, toasters, and the like.
It is also known as waste electrical and electronic
equipment (WEEE). The European Union further describes e-waste in its WEEE Directive by classifying
electrical and electronic equipment into
TQFDJmDDBUFHPSJFT
t-BSHFIPVTFIPMEBQQMJBODFToPWFOT 
refrigerators, etc.
t4NBMMIPVTFIPMEBQQMJBODFToUPBTUFST WBDVVN
cleaners etc.

t0GmDFDPNNVOJDBUJPOoDPNQVUFST QSJOUFST UFMephones, fax machines, etc.


t&OUFSUBJONFOUoUFMFWJTJPOTFUT TUFSFPT QPSUBCMF
music players, etc.
t-JHIUJOHonVPSFTDFOUUVCFT FUD
t&UPPMToESJMMJOHNBDIJOFT FMFDUSJDMBXONPXFST FUD
t4QPSUTMFJTVSFoFMFDUSPOJDUPZT USBJOJOH
machines, etc.
t.FEJDBMBQQMJBODFTBOEJOTUSVNFOUT
t4VSWFJMMBODFFRVJQNFOU
t"VUPNBUJDJTTVJOHTZTUFNToUJDLFUJTTVJOH
machines, etc.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their
Disposal, 1989 (Basel Convention) is the global
instrument governing the control of hazardous waste
exports. Since 2002, the Conference of the Parties to
the Convention recognized e-waste as a priority issue
and adopted measures to address them. Similar
to the EUs WEEE Directive, the Basel Convention
classifies e-waste into categories contained in two
lists (Annexes VIII and IX) :
t"oQSFDJPVTNFUBMBTIGSPNJODJOFSBUJPOPG
printed circuit boards
t"oVOTPSUFEXBTUFCBUUFSJFT FYDMVEJOHMJTU#CBUteries
t"oXBTUFFMFDUSJDBMBOEFMFDUSPOJDBTTFNCMJFTPS
scrap containing components such as accumulators
and other batteries included on list A, mercury switches,
glass from cathode ray tubes and other activated glass
and PCB-capacitors, or contaminated with Annex I
constituents
t"oXBTUFNFUBMDBCMFTDPBUFEPSJOTVMBUFEXJUI
plastics
containing or contaminated with coal tar, PCB, lead,
cadmium or other halogenated compounds
t"oHMBTTXBTUFGPSNDBUIPEFSBZUVCFTBOEPUIFS
activated glasses
t#oTDSBQBTTFNCMJFTGSPNFMFDUSJDBMQPXFS
generation not contaminated with lubricating oil, PCB or
PCT to an extent to render them hazardous
t#oFMFDUSJDBMBOEFMFDUSPOJDBTTFNCMJFT XIFOOPU
contaminated with Annex I constituents)

E-waste as a rising global concern


The life span of consumer electronics is becoming shorter
and shorter. Gordon E. Moore, one of the founders of
Intel Corporation, who theorized that a computer chips
processing power doubles every 18 months, described
this phenomenon in 1970. Simply put, this theory, known as
Moores Law, states that the next generation of computer
processors will be twice as fast as the previous generation,
at the sameor lowerprice and size. Moreover,
manufacturers put out new models of equipment at a rate
that pushes newly purchased products into obsolescence
after a few short yearsand in certain cases, only in
months.
According to a 2009 joint report of the United Nations
Environment Programme and the United Nations
University, global e-waste levels are increasing by 40
million metric tons per year. The report, which assessed
current policies, skills, waste collection networks and
informal recycling in 11 representative developing
countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, also predicts
that electronics sales and discard rates will rise sharply
in the next decade. By 2020, Chinas mobile phone waste
is expected to rise to 700% of the volume reported in
2007, while computer and television waste will double.
India faces an even bigger increase, at 1800% for mobile
phone waste, and 500% for television waste.
The UNEP report warns that unless governments,
industries and consumers intensify action towards
proper collection and recycling of e-waste, China and
India are among the many developing countries which
face the peril of an impending e-waste crisis and its
accompanying serious environmental and health
consequences.

*XDQJGRQJ&KLQD
The town of Guiyu in Guangdong Province, China, was
in the spotlight in 2001 when the Basel Action Network
(BAN) documented the dumping, processing, and trade
of e-waste in Guiyu, in its report, Exporting Harm:
The High-Tech Trashing of Asia. Beginning 1995, the
formal agricultural community has been transformed
into an active e-waste processing site, with hundreds of
trucks delivering discarded
electronics on a daily basis.
These electronics are said to come from a number of
countries, causing an article to dub Guiyu as the e-waste
capital of the world . Institutional labels on the waste
allowed BAN to identify the main source as North America,
although some were also found to come from Japan,
South Korea and Europe.
Spent toner cartridges, circuit boards, computer and
printer housings, CRT yokes, wires and cables are
among the many things that were processed, mostly
with makeshift equipment and no protective gear for the
workers. Sweeping and recovery of toner, open burning
of PVC-coated wires, breaking of CRT screens, and
recycling of circuit boards were done directly in the
village, which housed not only the workers, but also
children and pregnant women. Incidentally, many of the
workers are also women and children, working in appalling
conditions for an average daily wage of $1.50.
The sampling conducted by BAN confirmed heavy
metal contamination in water and sediment collected
from Lianjiang River, where circuit boards have been
burned, treated with acid, and dumped. The water
sample was found to contain 190 times the World Health
Organizations threshold level of lead for drinking water.
Likewise, the sediment sample contained lead, barium,
tin, chromium and copper in amounts much higher than
the United States Environmental Protection Agencys
threshold levels for environmental risk in soil. A
glaring indicator of the level of pollution in Guiyu is the
deteriorating quality of local drinking water. A year after
the e-waste industry began in Guiyu, drinking water had to
be delivered from a town 30 kilometers away, due to
groundwater pollution.

,QGLD
India is another hotspot for e-waste dumping and processing,
according to a 2007 report from Toxics Link India. Around
150,000 metric tons of e-waste is generated locally every
year, with 19,000 metric tons coming from the city of
.VNCBJ5IJTmHVSF BMPOHXJUIUIFTVCTUBOUJBMBNPVOUPG
e-waste which is still being imported illegally, makes its
way to crude recycling markets found across the country.
Electronics scrap trading hotspots can be found in Indias
National Capital Region, particularly in Kurla, Saki Naka,
Kamthipura-Grant Road, Jogeshwari and Malad.
As with China, the e-waste processing market in India has
expanded rapidly with the huge amount of locally and
internationally sourced discarded electronics. In fact,
several areas in Delhi have already developed speciali[BUJPOT FBDIPOFDBSSZJOHPVUBTQFDJmDGVODUJPOJOUIF
informal recycling process. For example, a shipment of
EJTDBSEFEDPNQVUFSTNJHIUmSTUNBLFJUTXBZUP-BKQBU
Nagar for disassembly, before the circuit boards are sent
to Mandoli, and the rest of the plastic housings and other
scrap end up in Old Seelampur for trade.
Cheap labor, minimum capital investment, and an absence
of any regulation of e-waste import have all contributed
towards making India one of the main destinations for
e-waste dumping by developed countries. In its research,
5PYJDT-JOLJEFOUJmFE%VCBJBOE4JOHBQPSFBTQPTTJCMF
transit points for e-waste that is illegally imported from
OECD countries, with international traders using loopholes
in Indias law and passing e-waste off as used working
computers.

An issue of volume
In 2005, the European Union produced 8.3 9.5 million
NFUSJDUPOTPGFXBTUF CBTFEPOUIFDMBTTJmDBUJPOTJOJUT
8&&&%JSFDUJWF#Z UIJTBOOVBMQSPEVDUJPOmHVSFJT
expected to reach 12.3 million metric tons by 2020, equal
UPNPSFUIBOTJY1BZBUBTEVNQTJUFTmMMFEUPDBQBDJUZ
The United States is also generating e-waste at a steadily
increasing rate. From junking 20 million computers in 1998
, the US went on to discard 26 37 million more units in
2005. This was only a portion of the e-waste produced in
2005, which weighs in at 1.9 2.2 million metric tons. This
climbed to 3.01 million metric tons in 2007, including 41.1
million computersenough to pack the Araneta Coliseum
with e-waste 32 times.
Even developing countries are not far behind in e-waste
production. Most Asian countries are starting to generate
large quantities of e-waste due to recent economic growth.
In fact, developing countries such as Thailand and the
Philippines are expected to triple their e-waste output by
2010.

Several techniques have been developed to estimate


mHVSFTPOFXBTUFWPMVNFJOTPNFDPVOUSJFTJO"TJB
Such techniques use sales data and end-of-life models,
taking into account product lifetime and the reuse,
TUPSBHF SFDZDMJOH BOEMBOEmMMVTFCFIBWJPSPGUIF
individual countries.
In 2003, China generated 56 million units of e-waste
in home appliances and personal computers. Japan
discarded over 18.6 million home appliances in the
same year, along with Korea producing 1.7 million
computers in e-waste. Poorer countries such as
Thailand produce less: 2.4 million home appliances and
0.3 million computersstill substantial quantities.
A 2005 study on the current and future quantity of
e-waste in the Philippines estimates that approximately
2.7 million units of televisions, refrigerators, air
conditioners, washing machines and radios became
obsolete by the end of 2005, with around 1.8 million units
HPJOHUPMBOEmMMT'SPNUP BQQSPYJNBUFMZ
million units became obsolete, with an additional 14
million units projected to follow the same route by 2010.
BT took another approach in estimating the amount of
e-waste ending up in the Philippines from other
countries, based on the business permits issued by local
governments to electronics stores. An increasing trend
in the number of surplus electronic stores registering for
CVTJOFTTNJHIUTVHHFTUBOJODSFBTJOHJOnVYPGFXBTUF
entering the country.
However, BT found that it is virtually impossible to
estimate the number of electronics stores that supply
mainly secondhand items, based on information
gathered from the Quezon and Manila City Halls. The
DJUJFTCVTJOFTTQFSNJUTBOEMJDFOTJOHPGmDFTEPOPU
IBWFTQFDJmDDBUFHPSJFTGPSUIJTUZQFPGCVTJOFTT
JOTUFBE UIFTFBSFNFSFMZDMBTTJmFEBTiSFUBJMTUPSFTw
along with stores selling clothes, motor vehicles,
machinery, and a host of other products.

An issue of toxicity
Not only does the phenomenon of e-waste pose volume
management problems for countries, it also creates
serious environmental and health concerns. E-waste
contains a cocktail of hazardous materials that can
pollute groundwater and surrounding bodies of water,
and contaminate the air and ultimately affect biodiversity.
Moreover, people exposed to such materials may be
more prone to brain and reproductive system problems
and different forms of cancer.

The following are the common toxins associated


with e-waste:
%DULXP
#BSJVNDBOCFGPVOEJOTQBSLQMVHT TPNFnVPSFTDFOU
lamps, and in the coating on CRT monitors. It easily
transforms to its stable forms, barium sulfate and barium
carbonate, and can last a long time in the environment,
BDDVNVMBUJOHJOmTIBOEPUIFSBRVBUJDPSHBOJTNT4IPSU
term exposure may cause brain swelling, muscle weakness, damage to the heart, liver and spleen. There is no
data on the effects of long-term exposure and carcinogenicity of barium.
%HU\OOLXP
Beryllium is a hard, grayish metal naturally found in minFSBMTBOEQVSJmFEGPSVTFJOOVDMFBSSFBDUPST BJSDSBGUBOE
space vehicles, x-ray machines, and mirrors. Its alloys
can be found in televisions, calculators, computers and
other electronic devices. It is also used to create specialty ceramics for electrical applications. Beryllium settles
as dust in the air and can settle in bodies of water. Inhalation can cause acute beryllium disease, a pneumonialike ailment, or chronic beryllium disease, which causes
DISPOJDXFBLOFTT EJGmDVMUZCSFBUIJOH XFJHIUMPTT BOE
heart disease. Chronic exposure can increase the risk of
lung cancer in humans.
%URPLQDWHGDPHUHWDUGDQWV
#SPNJOBUFEnBNFSFUBSEBOUT #'3T
TVDIBTQPMZCSPminated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated
biphenyls (PBBs), are added to plastic electronics components and printed wiring boards. PBDEs and PBBs
attach to dust particles in the air, causing exposure
through inhalation. Based on animal studies, these BFRs
cause thyroid, kidney and liver damage. PBBs were also
shown to cause some developmental effects in humans.
*UJTDMBTTJmFEBTBQPTTJCMFIVNBODBSDJOPHFO#'3T
have been found to contaminate breast milk. In Bui Dau,
Vietnam, breast milk of mothers working in e-waste recycling areas contained PBDEs in excess of the maximum
reference dose for infants.

&DGPLXP
Cadmium can be found in some rechargeable batteries, semiconductor chips, and in the phosphor coating
of CRT monitors. When released to the environment,
it accumulates in aquatic organisms and agricultural
crops. Due to its long half-life and stability, cadmium can
build up in the body. Chronic, low-level exposure causes
kidney disease and bone brittleness. Cadmium and its
DPNQPVOETBSFLOPXOIVNBODBSDJOPHFOTJUXBTGPVOE
to cause lung cancer in workers exposed to cadmium in
the air.
&KURPLXPKH[DYDOHQW
Hexavalent chromium, or Cr (VI), is commonly found in
metal parts of electronic equipment, particularly as an
anti-corrosive coating on screws, rivets, bolts, frames,
chassis, switches, plugs, and others. It can also be
GPVOEJOTPNFEBUBUBQFTBOEnPQQZEJTLT$S 7*
JTB
strong irritant to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It
is a carcinogen, attacking the lungs. Cr (VI) may also
be genotoxic in human cell lines, causing DNA strand
breaks and chromosome damage.
/HDG
Lead is widely used in solder, batteries, electronic
components, and in the glass of CRT monitors, among
others. Its main target is the nervous system, both in children and in adults. Short-term exposure to high levels
may cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, brain, kidney, and reproductive system damage, coma and even
death. It also causes anemia and increased blood pressure in middle-aged and older people, and may induce
miscarriage in pregnant women. Although there is no
conclusive proof that lead causes cancer in humans, it
is anticipated to be a possible human carcinogen based
on animal studies.
0HUFXU\
Mercury is used in switches, thermostats, batteries, and
nVPSFTDFOUMBNQT JODMVEJOHUIPTFVTFEJOnBUMJRVJE
crystal display panels. It attacks the nervous system,
adversely affecting brain and motor function, especially
in young children. It also causes kidney damage through
chronic exposure.
3KWKDODWHV SKWKDODWHHVWHUV 
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are often added
as softeners to PVC. These are only physically incorQPSBUFEJOUPUIF17$BOEOPUDIFNJDBMMZCPVOEUIVT 
they can migrate out of the product and leech into the
surrounding environment. Phthalates are reproductive
toxicants that particularly affect males, and may cause
asthmatic and allergic reactions in children.

3RO\YLQ\OFKORULGH
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is found mainly in plastic computer and television housing, and in cable insulation.
When burned, PVC releases harmful dioxins, furans, and
phthalates. Dioxins and furans are known carcinogens
and reproductive and developmental toxicants. They also
affect the immune and endocrine systems. Phthalates are
also reproductive toxicants, and may cause asthmatic and
allergic reactions in children.
Table 1. Common chemical components of e-waste and their effects on the environment

Substance

Source

Environmental Relevance

+($9<0(7$/6$1'27+(50(7$/6
1LFNHO
Antimony

Arsenic
Barium

Rechargeable batteries,
electron gun
Diodes, batteries,
semiconductors
Integrated circuit and
semiconductor
Cathode ray tubes

Enters the environment through air


Absorbed in soils usually containing steel magnesium
or aluminium.
)DWDOWROLIHIRUPVLQODUJHGRVHV
Extremely poisonous to life forms
River water becomes contaminated with barium that
further accumulates in aquatic organisms.

Beryllium

Electrical connectors and


battery contacts

In water, chemicals will react with beryllium, causing it


to become insoluble.

Cadmium

computer circuit boards,


batteries

Lead

computer circuit boards,


cathode ray tubes

Absorbed by plants.
Leaches into the soil and groundwater
If incinerated, it is transmitted to the air and soil.
Lead that accumulates in the environment has highly
acute and chronic toxic effects on plants,
animals and microorganisms.

+$/2*(1$7('&203281'6
Polybrominated
'LSKHQ\OHWKHUV 3%'(

)LUHUHWDUGDQWVIRUSODVWLFV

Drip & contaminate water.


Leaches into the soil and groundwater.

7HWUD%URPR
%LVSKHQRO$ 7%%3$

)ODPHUHWDUGDQWV

7R[LFWRDTXDWLFRUJDQLVPV

Polybrominated
%LSKHQ\OV 3%%

)ODPHUHWDUGDQWV

Release toxic emissions

&KORURXRURFDUERQV
&)&

Cooling unit, insulation foam

Polyvinyl chloride
39&

Copper cable coats,


computer casings

Poly Chlorinated
%LSKHQ\OV 3&%V

Capacitor and transformer

Combustion of halogenated substances causes toxic


emissions
Release highly toxic dioxins & furans when burnt to
recover valuable metals, Soluble in water
Our soil and water may become contaminated, which
ZRXOGHYHQWXDOO\HQWHUKXPDQVDQGDQLPDOVIRRG
chain.
Persistent and bioaccumulative.

10

Where does e-waste come from?


The Philippines, in its own capacity, can generate an
overwhelmingly large amount of e-waste. A 2006 study
estimates that 14 million units of home appliancesnot yet
including computers, mobile phones and portable music
playerswill be discarded between 2005 and 2010. This
amount of televisions, put end-to-end, can travel from
Manila to Baguio and back nearly 10 times.
Household consumers whose electronics spending
behavior continues to grow despite the countrys poverty
produce much of this. Domestic sales data in the
Philippines for various electronic devices including
televisions, radios and refrigerators place 2002 sales at
2.8 million units. In 2003, this rose to 3.2 million unitsan
increase of over ten percent.
The data collected spanned the years 1985 to 2003.
Such increasing sales consistently taking place over a
long period of time means that households are replacing
old electronics with new ones, and that the obsolete
equipment is being stored or thrown out somewhere. This
is corroborated by waste pickers in Payatas, Malabon and
Tondo, who say that most of the televisions, computers and
mobile phones that they accumulate are scavenged from
garbage trucks that collect waste from households and
PGmDFT
)PXFWFS BTJHOJmDBOUBNPVOUPGFXBTUFBMTPFOUFSTUIF
Philippines as surplus electronics from other countries
such as the United States, South Korea, Japan, Hong
Kong and Thailand. Importation of secondhand home
appliances and electronic equipment is controlled by the
Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of
&OWJSPONFOU/BUVSBM3FTPVSDFT GPMMPXJOHUIFQSPWJTJPOT
of the Basel Convention.
A table of e-waste importation clearances from DENR-EMB
shows that less than 2,000 secondhand television units
were imported from Japan and Korea in the 2004-2005
period. This is likely an underestimation possibly due to
UIFMBDLPGBOFGmDJFOUMZFOGPSDFEUSBDLJOHTZTUFNGPSUIJT
kind of import. BT conducted interviews with local surplus
stores to verify possible volumes. In Malabon, BT was able
to visit a dealer of surplus televisions whose warehouse
stocking Japanese surplus aloneeasily contained almost
1,000 units.

The Philippines is not the only country importing e-waste.


China and Hong Kong are the leaders in the used electronics industry in Southeast Asia. Chinas rapidly expanding
economy is propelling the importation and resurgence of
the informal recycling of e-waste, due to an increased demand for raw materials which can be recovered from used
FMFDUSPOJDT"MUIPVHIJUJTEJGmDVMUUPFTUJNBUFUIFUPUBMWPMume of e-waste processed annually in China, it is said to
produce 2.3 million metric tons annually . A 2002 research
reports that hundreds of trucks ferry e-waste in and out of
Guiyu, a major processing city, on a daily basis.

What happens to the e-waste?


Some e-waste can be safely and properly managed in
countries that have effectively and successfully implemented regulations, through take-back policies and formal
recycling companies with sophisticated systems, stable
governments, and reliable social safety nets. However,
CFDBVTFPGUIFDPTUTBOEMJBCJMJUZJOWPMWFE BTJHOJmDBOU
amount of e-waste either remains in storage, or is dealt with
in an unsafe manner, compromising human and environmental health.
Informal recycling
In the Philippines, there is a lack of awareness and initiative on this option of formal e-waste recycling, as well
as a dearth of accredited e-waste recyclers and service
providers. As of June 2010, there are only fourteen DENRaccredited companies that accept e-waste and electronics
scrap materials, and these cater mostly to large-volume
industrial markets.
"TBSFTVMUPGUIJTEFmDJFODZ SFDZDMJOHPGFXBTUFJOUIF
Philippines is informally practiced by the informal waste
sector, composed of scavengers, waste pickers and junk
TIPQPQFSBUPST BOEPUIFSJOEJWJEVBMTXJUIWFSZTQFDJmD
tasks. The movement and turnover of goods is very swift.

11

Discarded televisions, computers, and other e-waste are


collected and brought to garbage dumps on a daily basis,
together with paper, plastic, and other household waste.
.BNCVCVSBPU PSXBTUFQJDLFSTUIBUGPDVTTQFDJmDBMMZPO
e-waste, sell these to junk shops, who in turn trade the
sorted goods to buyers or dealers, who come daily as well.
Business is quick, and conducted
purely on a cash basis. Junk shop owners often operate
XJUIMJNJUFETQBDFUIFSFGPSF UIFZQVUBQSFNJVNPO
TQFFEBOEFGmDJFODZPGDPMMFDUJPOBOETPSUJOH5IJT
means that processing techniques are often quick
and dirty.
%UHDNLQJDQG&UXVKLQJ
Large e-waste such as televisions, computers and
nVPSFTDFOUMBNQTBSFCVMLZBOEUBLFVQBMPUPGTQBDF
This, combined with the volume generated and the limited
space available in most dumpsites and other informal
recycling places, is often remedied by breaking and
crushing.
Television sets, computer monitors, and fluorescent
lamps are crushed not only to minimize the volume
occupied, but also to retrieve the sellable portions of the
appliance. The aluminum caps are removed from tubular
nVPSFTDFOUMBNQTCFGPSFUIFHMBTTUVCFTBSFCSPLFOBOE
crushed to reduce volume. The same is done for CFLs
after removing the wires and small integrated circuits
inside the base of the bulb, and with CRT monitors.
In Pier 18, Tondo, Manila, where a large cache of busted
nVPSFTDFOUMBNQTXBTGPVOEEVNQFESFDFOUMZ MBNQ
breaking is a backyard operation. Wastepickers collect
lamps in sacks and bring them to their homes, where
breaking is done with improvised hammers and metal
QJQFTXIFOBTJHOJmDBOUBNPVOUIBTCFFODPMMFDUFE

Occasionally, even small volumes are processed as a


source of quick cash for food, medical emergencies,
or other needs. Ironically, even though breaking takes
place right outside the wastepickers homes, in full view
and within easy access of children and babies, they
make sure to wrap up the broken glass and throw it out
with their general garbage, because delikado sa bata
ang basag (broken glass is dangerous to children).
The plastic base of the CFL bulb is often saved for the
children, who turn them into trumpo or spinning tops.
Crushing is also necessary to reach the copper yoke
located at the base of CRTs in televisions. The copper
is retrieved after breaking off the neck of the CRT,
releasing the vacuum contained inside. The metal frame
surrounding the CRT is also collected. A junk shop
operator in Catmon, Malabon describes glass as the
only valueless component of CRTs. Thus, after all the
saleable materials have been recovered, the rest of the
glass is crushed and discarded.
In February 2011, BT published Chasing Mercury:
Measuring Mercury Levels in the Air Across the
Philippines, a year-long study on the amount of mercury
vapor in various locations in the country. The Pier 18
and Smokey Mountain area was found to have an
elevated mercury air concentration (see table below).
Note that the United States Environmental Protection
Agency sets 10,000 ng/m3 as the immediate evacuation
level for mercury vapor, with levels between 1,000 and
10,000 ng/m3 as the level wherein relocation has to be
scheduled as soon as possible.

/RFDWLRQ

Sampling Date/ Time

Advance Reading

0D[LPXP5HDGLQJ

&57EUHDNLQJ
Capulongan St

January 4, 2011
10:37 10:47 AM

QJP3

QJP3

Dump site
Pier 18, Smokey Mt. 2

January 4, 2011
11:03 11:13 AM

QJP3

QJP3

&)/EUHDNLQJDUHD

January 4, 2011
11:14 11:24 AM

QJP3

QJP3

Wire burning
Pier 18 dumpsite

January 4, 2011
11:25 11:35 AM

QJP3

QJP3

Residential area
Pier 18

January 4, 2011
11:47 11:57 AM

QJP3

QJP3

Paradise Heights

January 4, 2011
12:01 12:11 AM

QJP3

QJP3

Agri-crops plantation
Smokey Mt.1

January 4, 2011
12:11 12:21 AM

QJP3

QJP3

12

There is generally a low awareness of the chemical


dangers of e-waste among CRT and bulb crushers. No
personal protective equipment is used except the occasional t-shirt or towel wrapped around the head. The most
common injuries are wounds from handling broken glass,
and such injuries reportedly take longer to heal compared
to regular cuts.
%XUQLQJ
Although burning is used in many areas to reduce garbage volume, it is often employed in e-waste processing
to retrieve metals such as copper from electrical cables.
Cables without the plastic, polyvinyl chloride coating command a higher price, fetching almost 300% of the price of
the unprocessed cables.
Some informal recyclers still remove the PVC insulation
manually, using ordinary wire strippers or no equipment
BUBMM CVUNPTUPQUGPSUIFTQFFEBOEFGmDJFODZPGPQFO
burning instead. Cables are gathered in an open area and
burned. The copper is collected, cleaned if necessary, and
sold, while the charred residue is left behind as garbage.
Burning of PVC produces acrid black smoke which irritates
the throat, skin and eyes of nearby residents, and even
of the informal recyclers, whose only protection against
the harsh smoke are t-shirts wrapped around their heads.
Residents of the Payatas dumpsite claim that open burnJOHIBTCFFOQSPIJCJUFEJOUIFJSBSFBCZCBSBOHBZPGmDJBMT
4FWFSBMWJPMBUPSTIBWFCFFOmOFEBOEUIFJSXJSFTDPOmTcated, yet many still get away with the practice by burning
their cables at night, at some distance from the residential
clusters. The combustion of PVC-containing plastic produces a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including dioxins and
GVSBOT*OGBDU UIF%045IBTJEFOUJmFEPQFOCVSOJOHBT
the primary source of dioxin pollution in the country.
Acid Working
Circuit boards are among the highest-selling electronics
parts that can be retrieved from e-waste. Aside from the
variety of IC components which may still be tested and
resold, precious metals are also contained in the board
and its components. In some cases, these are recovered
by dipping the boardsbroken or intactinto acid baths.
Workers in Guiyu, a village in Guangdong, China, use
aqua regia, a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids.
Although acid processing has reportedly been occurring
in Tondo and Payatas, BT has not been able to document
any live acid work, as wastepickers and junk shop operators claim that only buyers in Valenzuela have the technical
know-how for such procedures. In Pier 18, Tondo, Manila,
buyers focused especially on circuit boards supposedly
perform the acid work right in the junk shops. Before a buyer purchases a lot of boards, acid or gasoline is dripped
onto a board to test whether precious metals can still be
recovered.

E-waste as commodity
Before electronics were popularized as a waste commodity, broken and obsolete appliances were simply thrown
out with the rest of the household waste. Wastepickers
collected the plastic portions of equipment and discarded
the rest, concentrating instead on collecting used paper,
plastic, glass bottles and tin and aluminum cans. In ____,
somebody learned how to process e-waste, and this started the informal e-waste recycling industry that continues to
support 12,000 informal waste workers all over the country.
In Pier 18, Tondo, Manila, many of the e-waste recyclers,
called mambuburaot, have been engaged in this livelihood
for generations. Many of them cite lack of better opportunities as their reason for remaining in this profession, but
also admit that wastepicking and informal recycling are
lucrative enough to support their families, especially since
e-waste became a major commodity. Several families have
been able to send their children to school, with little capital
aside from hard physical labor and patience. One woman
XBTBCMFUPFYQBOEIFSPQFSBUJPOTBTXFMMGSPNCFJOH
a simple mambubulasi, she eventually became a buyer,
setting up a big junk shop with 2 trucks and providing
FNQMPZNFOUUPBEP[FOXBTUFQJDLFSTVTJOHIFSQSPmUTGSPN
the e-waste boom in 1997.

13

0RWKHUERDUG&LUFXLWERDUG
The motherboard, also known as the central circuit board,
holds the crucial components for the operation of modern
computers and other electronicsmicroprocessors, memory chips, power connectors, and others. Once collected,
it can be sold as is, fetching Php 220-250 per kilogram, or
further processed to remove small parts such as resistors
and integrated circuits, and to recover precious metals like
gold and beryllium.
Copper wire
Copper is contained in most if not all electrical wiring.
Recovered copper, with the PVC coating already removed
by burning or wire stripping, can be sold for Php 280-290
per kilogram. Some buyers also purchase copper wire still
in its original PVC installation for a much lower price of Php
100 per kilogram.
Plastic
The hard plastic housings of computers, mobile phones,
BOEUFMFWJTJPOTBSFDMBTTJmFECZXBTUFQJDLFSTBTiNBMVtong, to differentiate it from polyethylene drink bottles and
polystyrene disposable cups. This is sold for Php 16 per
kilogram.
Compact discs
Compact discs are made of polycarbonate plastic. A
kilogram of CDs, approximately 50 pieces, sells for
Php 17.
Aluminum
Many metal reinforcements for structural support in
electronics are made of aluminum. This is sold for
Php 50 per kilogram.
/HDG7LQJJD
Lead that is used to coat the inside of CRT monitors is
barely recoverable, as its dust form scatters easily when
CRTs are broken. Whatever lead can be recovered from
batteries, circuit components and solder is sold for Php 30
per kilogram.
2WKHUPHWDOV*ROGVLOYHUEHU\OOLXPHWF
Precious metals in e-waste are found mainly in the circuit
boards and its small components. Recovery of these
metals, which include gold, silver and beryllium, require
further processing techniques which ordinary wastepickers
are unfamiliar with, or deem as time-consuming.

14

*OREDODQGUHJLRQDOLQLWLDWLYHV
Several global and regional initiatives have been spearheaded by parties such as the Basel Convention and the
European Commission to address the ballooning problem
of e-waste.
Take-back policies and formal recycling
As part of their compliance with the WEEE Directive of
2002, EU member states are required to ensure that manufacturers and importers of electronics to establish comprehensive take-back and recycling programs. At end-of-life,
DPNQBOJFTNVTUmOBODFUIFDPMMFDUJPO USFBUNFOU SFDPWFSZ
and disposal of their products in an environmentally sound
manner, usually through the services of a formal recycling
facility. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Sony
have already established take-back programs in Europe.
0RELOH3KRQH3DUWQHUVKLS,QLWLDWLYH 033,
The Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative (MPPI) was
launched in 2002 during the sixth conference of the parties
to the Basel Convention. Together with the Convention and
other stakeholders, mobile phone manufacturers signed
a Declaration supporting the development and promotion
of the environmentally sound management of end-of-life
mobile phones.
5IF.11*XBTTQFDJmDBMMZDSFBUFEUPBDIJFWFCFUUFSQSPEuct stewardship, promote the best refurbishing, recycling
and disposal options, and to mobilize political and institutional support for environmentally sound management,
among others. To date, 15 manufacturers have joined the
MPPI.
Through the MPPI, technical guidelines were developed
on the collection, transboundary movement, refurbishment and material recovery of used and end-of-life
mobile phones, as well as awareness-raising on design
considerations. An overall Guidance Document was
prepared containing these, and is now in use by
industry, NGOs, and other stakeholders in awarenessraising campaigns and other actions.

3DUWQHUVKLSRQ&RPSXWLQJ(TXLSPHQW 3$&(
The Partnership on Computing Equipment (PACE) is
a multi-stakeholder partnership formed to address the
environmentally sound management of used and end-oflife computers. It offers a forum governments, industry,
NGO and academe to participate in providing innovative
approaches to this facet of the e-waste issue.
The PACE aims to promote sustainable development
in the use, repair and refurbishment of computers in
developing countries, incentivize the option of sending
computers to material recovery facilities versus land
disposal, develop technical guidelines for proper repair,
refurbishment and recovery, and end the shipment of
unsalvageable computers to developing countries.
Initiatives by PACE project groups are under way to
identify existing materials on environmentally sound
management of computers, to develop guidelines on
repair, refurbishment and material recovery, and to pilot
special methods of managing computer-related waste
in developing countries, effectively diverting these from
MBOEmMMBOEPQFOCVSOJOHTJUFT
(QYLURQPHQWDOO\6RXQG0DQDJHPHQWRI(ZDVWHLQ
$VLDDQGWKH3DFLF
To respond to the need for updated knowledge on
cleaner technologies in e-waste repair, refurbishment,
recycling and recovery, the Basel Convention, together
with UNEP, the BC Regional Centers, and local NGOs,
EFWFMPQFEBQSPKFDUTQFDJmDBMMZGPSUIFNBOBHFNFOUPG
FXBTUFJOUIF"TJB1BDJmDSFHJPO
The four-year program aims to support national and local
JOJUJBUJWFTUPEJWFSUFOEPGMJGFDPNQVUFSTGSPNMBOEmMMTUP
promote sustainable use and recycling, to provide an
overview of the regional e-waste situation for the development of policies, and to raise public awareness on the
environmentally sound management of e-waste.

15

/RFDOLQLWLDWLYHV
Formal e-waste recycling
Although no organized take-back initiatives or e-wasteTQFDJmDEJSFDUJWFTFYJTUJOUIF1IJMJQQJOFTZFU UIFSFBSF
already a number of government-accredited facilities
engaged in electronics recycling. In these facilities, special
machines are used to dismantle obsolete electronics into
component parts: motherboards, power supply, hard disk
drives, plastics, and metals. Metals, power supply and
plastic are sold for recycling. Motherboards and other
circuit boards can be sold to buyers in Taiwan, Japan and
South Korea for recycling and recovery of precious metals
such as gold. Some companies, upon recovering intact
components, use these to put together serviceable new
equipment.
One such e-waste recycling company is HMR Envirocycle,
BMPDBMBGmMJBUFPGUIF"VTUSBMJBCBTFE).3(SPVQ).3JT
dedicated to the re-marketing, de-manufacturing and recycling of obsolete or non-working electronics. Around 10 to
15 tons of electronics are brought to their facility
weekly, refurbished and then sold at competitive prices in
their partner surplus depot, HMR Philippines. The rest of
their collections undergo remanufacturing processes to recover recyclable components such as plastic, non-ferrous
and ferrous metals, and the like. These are brought to treatment facilities and resold. Automated equipment such as
CRT crushers reduce workers exposure to the chemicals
found in electronics. ,
'(1516:0&PRGXOHVIRULQIRUPDOZDVWHVHFWRU
In July 2010, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), an attached agency of the DENR,
developed a safety module for the informal waste sector.
The module, which focused mostly on chemical safety,
aimed to educate the different people engaged in the sector about the occupational hazards they are exposed to,
as well as some immediate measures that can be taken to
minimize health and environmental risk.
The module was developed by the NSWMC, in partnership
with EcoWaste Coalition, and through consultation with
wastepickers from Pier 18 and Smokey Mountain in Manila,
and will be brought to major cities in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Metro Manila.
Weekend recycling markets recyclables collection events
Large scale e-waste collection events have been organized
by the Philippine Business for the Environment (PBE), a
OPOQSPmUPSHBOJ[BUJPOUIBUBJNTUPIFMQ1IJMJQQJOFJOEVTUSZ
address its environmental concerns and responsibilities,
in order to encourage more electronics recycling by
households as well as industry.

PBE has partnered with private businesses, such as the


Ayala Foundation, ABS-CBN Foundation and SM Supermalls,
to host these waste markets, called recyclables collection events (RCE). On regular, pre-set dates, large, open
spaces such as mall parking lots are converted into buying
stations where household and industrial consumers can
TFMM USBEFPSEPOBUFUIFJSKVOL&BDI3$&DBOBDDFQUTQFDJmD
recyclable materials onlypaper, aluminum cans, PET
bottles, lead acid batteries, used ink and toner cartridges,
and discarded computers, televisions, mobile phones and
others, depending on the arrangements that PBE is able
to make with the recycling companies that receive and
process the collected items.
Since its launching in 2002 to PBEs last inventory in 2008,
the RCEs have successfully diverted 195 dump trucks
XPSUIPGXBTUFGSPNFOUFSJOHMPDBMMBOEmMMT XIFSFJUXPVME
IBWFmMMFE NPGTQBDF5IF1#&BMTPSFQPSUTIBWJOH
recovered 282,000 kilograms of lead, 86,760 kilograms of
metals, and nearly 11 kilograms of precious metals, partly
from e-waste.
As of today, RCEs are only one-day regular promotional
events, but recycling and recovery is continuously done
during the year through a larger program called the
Industry Waste Exchange Program.
(F\FOLQJHIIRUWVE\LQGXVWU\ 1RNLD 
Some electronics manufacturers have begun taking small
steps locally towards product stewardship. Mobile phone
giant Nokia Philippines has launched its Takeback
E-cycling Campaign, which encourages consumers to
deposit their discarded mobile phones, batteries and
accessories in Nokia recycling bins located conveniently
JONBMMT TDIPPMT BOEPGmDFT5IFDPMMFDUFEFXBTUFJT
shipped to recycling plants in Singapore, where it is
converted into raw materials for other products.

16

/DZRQHZDVWH
Despite reports of e-waste being dumped in developing
countries by developed countries, it is largely the European Union and the United States that have come up with
TQFDJmDMFHJTMBUJPOBHBJOTUUIFHFOFSBUJPOBOEEVNQJOH
of e-waste. These legislative measures address design of
electronics, as well as collection and disposal when the
products have reached end-of-life. In developing countries
such as India, China, and the Philippines, laws against improper e-waste import, dumping and processing are either
inadequate or still non-existent.
European Union
1. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive
Directive 2002/96/EC, or the WEEE Directive, sets
collection, recovery, and recycling targets for all
kinds of electrical goods, and became European
Law in February 2003. Since then, the 25 member
states of the EU were obliged to transpose into
national law the directives provisions, which assigns
responsibility for the collection and disposal of ewaste to the manufacturers of such equipment. The
manufacturers are compelled to manage the collected e-waste in an environmentally-sound manner,
whether through ecological disposal, or by refurbishing and reusing the materials.
2. Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive
Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Commission, more commonly known as the RoHS Directive, restricts the use of six hazardous materials in
the manufacture of various types of electronic and
electrical equipment. Any new equipment manufactured and put on the market since the regulation
was put into force in July 2006 must not contain lead,
mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers in
quantities exceeding assigned maximum concentration values.
United States
In the United States, 24 states have passed laws for
statewide e-waste recycling, with 4 more states introducing
legislation in 2011. Of these, all states except California
mandate the use of the Producer Responsibility approach,
where the manufacturer of electronics shoulders the cost
of managing the generated waste at end-of-life. The indiWJEVBMMBXTWBSZPOUIFTQFDJmDQSPWJTJPOT QBSUJDVMBSMZPO
the scope of products covered, who pays for the recycling,
inclusion of bans on prison labor and disposal, and others.
For example, in Hawaii, free recycling is offered for
IPVTFIPMET CVTJOFTTFT OPOQSPmUPSHBOJ[BUJPOT BOE
government, whereas only households can avail of free
service in Maine.

India
Current laws on the management of handling and waste,
TQFDJmDBMMZUIF&OWJSPONFOU"DUPGBOEUIF)B[BSEous Material Rules of 2008, address industrial manufacturing waste, and do not cover e-waste generated locally
by end-of-life products and internationally by illegal
trade.
In April 2010, the Ministry of Environment and Forests introduced the E-waste Management and Handling Rules
for public comment. The proposed rules are similar to
the EUs WEEE Directive, as it aims to make producers and manufacturers responsible for the collection
and disposal of e-waste. Recyclers, intermediaries and
consumers are also covered by the proposed law. In
addition, the law also proposes to ban the import of used
electronics for the purpose of charity, as a lot of e-waste
is brought into India under the pretext of donation to local charities.
Philippines
-PDBMMZ UIFSFJTOPTQFDJmDMBXPOFXBTUF TJNJMBSUPUIF
EUs WEEE Directive or Indias proposed E-waste Rules.
Instead, discarded electronics fall under the special
waste category of Republic Act No. 9003, or the
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA
9003). The act, which is a general law that aims to
reduce and properly manage solid waste in the PhilipQJOFT JEFOUJmFTUIFMPDBMHPWFSONFOUVOJUTUPCFSFTQPOsible for the collection and handling of special wastes,
and to identify current and proposed programs to ensure
proper handling, re-use and long-term disposal of such.
In addition to RA 9003, Republic Act 6969 (RA 6969),
also called the Toxic Substance and Hazardous and
Nuclear Waste Act of 1990, seeks to, among others,
with regard to chemical substances and mixtures that
present an unreasonable risk or injury to health or the
environment to regulate, restrict or prohibit the importation, manufacture, processing, sale, distribution, use
and disposal thereof. With regard to hazardous and
nuclear wastes RA 6969 seeks to prevent the entry, even
in transit, as well as the keeping or storage and disposal
of hazardous and nuclear wastes into the country for
whatever purpose.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) Administrative Order 29 (AO 29), series of 1992
is the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 6969.
AO 29 outlines the processes, including the requirements, in the management of toxic and hazardous
wastes, as well as the penalties that may be imposed in
violation of the law.

17

countries by developed countries, it is largely the


EuroUnder AO 29 the primary control mechanism in the
import and export of hazardous wastes into the Philippines is the prior permitting requirement. Any person who
wishes to import or export hazardous waste to and from
the Philippines must seek and obtain prior written approval
from the DENR.
In spite of the somewhat strong language of RA 6969
against hazardous waste disposal into the Philippines, RA
6969 unfortunately leaves the door open for hazardous
wastes into the Philippines through recycling of materials
containing hazardous substances. Under DENR AO 28,
Series of 1994, importers of recyclable materials containing
hazardous substances can bring these noxious materials into the Philippines with only some limiting conditions.
Some of these materials are: all electronic assemblies
contained printed circuit boards, electronic components
containing hazardous substances such as TVs, VCRs,
stereo, etc.

Issues of Concern
The e-waste crisis is borne by volume and toxicity.
Unfortunately, other factors are contributing to the
growing complexities of
1. Re-use and refurbishment
2. Wastes vs. Goods
Similar to the re-use and refurbishment approach,
the wastes vs. goods approach in exporting toxic
e-waste to developing countries rely on changing the
legal characteristic of a shipment to give it access
UISPVHIQPSUPGmDJBMT5IJTJTBUUJNFTDBMMFEUFDIOJDBM
smuggling where exporters label the wastes as goods
in order to escape regulation at the port.
For instance, a toxic waste trader will label the shipment
as paper instead of e-waste, knowing fully well that
DVTUPNTBOEQPSUPGmDJBMTNBZCFXBSZPGBOZFXBTUF
shipment.
3. Emerging Trade Agreements
Over the past seven years, a series of bilateral new
age economic partnership agreements have been
inked by Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) and several of its members namely:
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Viet Nam.

The agreements utilized the name economic partnership agreements (JEPAs). These JEPAs essentially
trade agreement that complements the basic the WTO
agreements on goods and services, and incorporate
areas presently not covered under the WTO called the
Singapore issues (i.e., investment, government procurement, competition policy, and trade facilitation).
These JEPAs have invariably been called WTO-Plus
agreements and Mega-Treaties to evoke their scope
and magnitude.
Civil society groups voiced concerns over the JEPAs
questioning their constitutionality to the impact of the
trade related provisions on the local economy. Amidst
the din of protests the JEPAs received in Southeast Asia
the issue of toxic waste trade resonated with most prominence. The issue of Japans intent to make Southeast
Asia its toxic waste bin and the ensuing environmental
and public health blight that could occur as a result of
the tsunami of Japanese toxic wastes caught the public
and the government of Japans attention.
Concerns have been raised over these JEPAs particularMZQSPWJTJPOTUIBUSFEFmOFiXBTUFTwBT+BQBOFTFHPPET 
which effectively changes the legal nature of the materials. Unlike technical smuggling, the JEPAs outrightly
legitimizes toxic waste trade as legal trade and runs
counter to the Basel Convention.

18

The agreements utilized the name economic partnership agreements (JEPAs). These JEPAs essentially
trade agreement that complements the basic the WTO
agreements on goods and services, and incorporate
areas presently not covered under the WTO called
the Singapore issues (i.e., investment, government
procurement, competition policy, and trade facilitation).
These JEPAs have invariably been called WTO-Plus
agreements and Mega-Treaties to evoke their scope
and magnitude.
Civil society groups voiced concerns over the JEPAs
questioning their constitutionality to the impact of the
trade related provisions on the local economy. Amidst
the din of protests the JEPAs received in Southeast
Asia the issue of toxic waste trade resonated with most
prominence. The issue of Japans intent to make Southeast Asia its toxic waste bin and the ensuing environmental and public health blight that could occur as a
result of the tsunami of Japanese toxic wastes caught
the public and the government of Japans attention.
Concerns have been raised over these JEPAs particuMBSMZQSPWJTJPOTUIBUSFEFmOFiXBTUFTwBT+BQBOFTF
goods, which effectively changes the legal nature of
the materials. Unlike technical smuggling, the JEPAs
outrightly legitimizes toxic waste trade as legal trade
and runs counter to the Basel Convention.

8QUHVSRQVLYH%DVHO&RQYHQWLRQ
The Basel Convention has long considered e-waste as
toxic waste that are subject to its jurisdiction. However,
with the continuing rise in e-waste generation and the
export of the toxic wastes, the Basel Convention appears
to be struggling in responding to this global challenge.
Crucial to this view is the continued inability of the Convention to pass the much heralded Basel Ban Amendment which prohibits the export of all toxic wastes, either
for disposal and recycling, from developed coutnries,
known as Annex VII countries, to developing countries.
The Basel Ban Amendment was introduced in 1995, and
in 16 years, the amendment lays languishing, an unfortunate victim, so it seems to the overpowering interests
behind allowing toxic trade to continue.

/DFNRI)DFLOLWLHV
During the conduct of this study BT has consulted with
consumers and e-waste generators and the question
that is often asked is where can locally generated ewaste be brought for disposal. A perusal of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website ultimately reveals that there is not enough licensed facilities
in the country to deal with all the e-wastes. Majority of
facilities are in the island of Luzon and fewer still covers
major cities such as Cebu and Davao, and fewer still or
none at all in other outlying areas.
The government needs to address either creation of
formal recycling facilities or improved collection and
transport so that local e-waste can be re-directed to
formal recycling faculties.

/DFNRI$ZDUHQHVV
In communicating with waste pickers, local government
PGmDJBMT BOEPUIFSQPMJDZNBLFSTUIFSFJTBQPTJUJWFTUFQ
JOUIFMFWFMPGBXBSFOFTTPGNPTU$PNQBSFEUPmWF
years ago, there is now a greater understanding of ewastes. However, not all sectors have been reached.
The government and civil society still needs to reach the
household level and further educate them on the dangers of e-waste.

19

Conclusion and Recommendations


The e-waste crisis is a global one. As foreign generated
FXBTUFXJMMDPOUJOVFUPmOETQMBDFTUPHPFTQFDJBMMZJO
developing countries. Countries, such as the Philippines
are becoming re-processing grounds for e-wastes that
will ultimately reach China.
In its role as a re-processing facility unrecyclable and
toxic residuals are ultimately left behind. Effective international intervention in the form of toxic waste trade bans
are needed. Without effective international action to stem
e-waste and toxic waste trade the burgeoning problem
of e-waste management will greatly fall on developing
countries.
"MUIPVHIUIFQSPCMFNTBQQFBSHSFBU UIFSFBSFTQFDJmD
things that we as a society can take, after all, we are all
generators of e-wastes:

Solutions at the Individual/Community


1. Consumer Research. Consumers must purchase
wisely. Know which companies produce safe and
environmentally sustainable electronic gadgets. Visit
websites such as those set up by Greenpeace particularly their Guide to Greener Electronics, a guide that
ranks the top electronics manufacturers according to
their policies on toxics, recycling, and climate change.
The guide is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/
international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/how-thecompanies-line-up/ and other civil society groups that
help further knowledge of good companies with less
toxic or toxic free products.
2. Purchase electronics that have the RoHS logo. This
means that the equipment complies with the European
Unions Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive which means these do not contain mercury, lead,
cadmium, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and
polybrominated biphenyl ethers common toxins
found in electronic gadgets.
#VZFOFSHZFGmDJFOUFMFDUSPOJDQSPEVDUT-PPLGPSUIF
&OFSHZ4UBSPSUIFFOFSHZFGmDJFODZSBUJP &&3


6. Concerned agencies and groups must assist in the


provision of alternative livelihood projects for the large
community involved in informal e-waste processing. These need not be radically different from their
accustomed livelihood. For example, government-accredited programs on the safe and proper handling of
electronics for recycling may be put in place to equip
the informal recyclers with the proper knowledge that
may qualify them to work in formal recycling operations. The National Solid Waste Management Committees module on chemical safety for waste pickers is a
HPPEmSTUTUFQUPXBSETUIJTEJSFDUJPO
5IFDPOTVNJOHQVCMJDNVTUCFOPUJmFEPGUIFSJTLT
posed by chemicals which may possibly be in the
electronics they purchase and use. Government,
industry and civil society groups must join forces and
initiate information, education and communication
campaigns on e-waste risks, proper handling, and
instructions for takeback or disposal.

National and International Solutions


3BUJmDBUJPOPGUIF#BTFM#BO"NFOENFOU5IF
Philippine government, as well as international
HPWFSONFOUTTIPVMEQVTIGPSUIFSBUJmDBUJPOPGUIJT
sorely needed international amendment.
9. Enact legislation that instills extended producer
responsibility on electronics products similar to the
WEEE Directive of Europe. This legislation must become the industry norm for both local and global
electronics manufacturers. Through EPR, manufacturers will be made responsible for minimizing the
amount of toxins in their products, providing for the
collection, management and disposal of discarded
electronics, and ultimately exploring safer, greener
design.
10. Enact legislation requiring electronics producers
selling, manufacturing, or distributing products in the
Philippine market to sell products that are free from
mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and
BFRs, similar to the restrictions imposed by the EU
under their ROHS Directive. After all, the health of
Filipinos are as important as those of Europeans, and
governments and manufacturers should not favor one
over the other.

4. Look for brands with good warranty and take-back


policies.
5. Go for quality, not quantity! Avoid buying very cheap
items in bulk. Most of these items will wear out after
a few months. Also, the EcoWaste Coalitions Project
PROTECT has found that 6 out of 7 cheap toys from
bargain centers contain toxic plastic. Cheap does not
necessarily mean good. Buying a product with good
quality item is a much better investment, and better for
the environment, too.

%DQ7R[LFV
26 Matalino St., Suite 329 Eagle Court
Diliman, Quezon City 1101
Philippines
TeleFax: +63 2 355 7640
www.bantoxics.org

Asian Development Bank, Metro Manila Solid Waste Management Project Final Report, September 2003.
The Study on Solid Waste Management for Metro Manila in the Republic of the Philippines, Final Report,
1SFQBSFECZ1BDJmD$POTVMUBOUT*OUFSOBUJPOBMGPSUIF+BQBO*OUFSOBUJPOBM$PPQFSBUJPO"HFODZ +*$"
.BSDI
3
V. T. Vizcarra. 2010. Down in the dumps. BusinessWorld Online. Available online, http://www.bworld.com.ph/main/
content.php?id=9764. Accessed 21 July 2010.
4
UNEP Global Resource Information Database, Europe. E-waste, the hidden side of IT equipments manufacturing and
use, 2005. http://www.grid.unep.ch/product/publication/download/ew_ewaste.en.pdf
5
http://www.step-initiative.org/
6
Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 27 January 2003, on waste electrical and
FMFDUSPOJDFRVJQNFOU 8&&&
1VCMJTIFEJO0GmDJBM+PVSOBM- 'FCSVBSZ"NFOEFECZ%JSFDUJWF&$
PO%FDFNCFS0GmDJBM+PVSOBM- %FDFNCFS
7
Secretariat of the Basel Convention. The Basel Convention: Key instrument in addressing the environmentally sound
management of electrical and electronic wastes (e-waste), April 2009.
8
UNEP/UNU: Recycling From e-waste to resources
9
BAN: Exporting Harm
10
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002920133_ewaste09.html
11
BAN: Exporting Harm
12
Ibid.
13
Ibid.
14
Mumbai: Choking on E-Waste - A study on the status of e-waste in Mumbai
15
E-waste in India: System failure imminent (Toxics Link)
16
E-waste in India: System failure imminent (Toxics Link)
17
ChemSec. http://www.chemsec.org/rohs/background/e-waste-and-recycling
18
NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL, ELECTRONIC PRODUCT RECOVERY AND RECYCLING BASELINE REPORT (1999)
(Cross-referenced from Exporting Harm) get proper reference
19
EPA factsheet e-waste management in the US
20
Facts and Figures Electronics Takeback Coalition
21
6/&1TPVSDFo$)&$,5)*4065IUUQXXXVOFQPSH%PDVNFOUT.VMUJMJOHVBM%FGBVMUBTQ %PDVNFOU*%"SUJDMF*
%MFO
22
Current status and research on e-waste issues in Asia (2006)
23
G.L. Peralta and P.M. Fontanos, E-waste issues and measures in the Philippines, Journal of Material Cycles and Waste
Management 8 (2006): 34-39.
24
EMPA, Hazardous substances in e-waste.
25
"54%35PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPS#BSJVN"UMBOUB ("64%FQBSUNFOUPG)FBMUIBOE)VNBO4FSWJDFT 1VCMJD
Health Service.
26
"54%3 i5PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPSCFSZMMJVNw64%FQBSUNFOUPG)FBMUIBOE)VNBO4FSWJDFT 1VCMJD)FBMUI4FSWJDF
27
"54%3i5PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPSQPMZCSPNJOBUFECJQIFOZMTBOEQPMZCSPNJOBUFEEJQIFOZMFUIFSTw64%FQBSUNFOU
of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
28
N. M. Tue, et. al. (2009). Contamination by PCBs and BFRs in Vietnamese human milk associated with recycling of e-waste.
From Interdisciplinary Studies on Environmental Chemistry Environmental Research in Asia, Eds., Y. Obayashi, T.
Isobe, A. Subramanian, S. Suzuki and S. Tanabe, pp. 9197. by TERRAPUB, 2009. http://www.terrapub.co.jp/online
proceedings/ec/02/pdf/ERA10.pdf
29
Ibid.
30
"54%35PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPS$BENJVN Draft for Public Comment). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Public Health Service.
31
"54%35PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPS$ISPNJVN Draft for Public Comment). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, Public Health Service.
32
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2007. 5PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPSMFBE 6QEBUF
. Atlanta, GA:
U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
33
&.1" 4XJTT'FEFSBM*OTUJUVUFPG5FDIOPMPHZ i)B[BSEPVTTVCTUBODFTJOFXBTUFwBWBJMBCMFGSPNIUUQFXBTUFHVJEF
JOGPIB[BSEPVT@TVCTUBODFT*OUFSOFUBDDFTTFE/PWFNCFS
34
"54%35PYJDPMPHJDBM1SPmMFGPS.FSDVSZ"UMBOUB ("64%FQBSUNFOUPG)FBMUIBOE)VNBO4FSWJDFT 1VCMJD
Health Service.
35
Greenpeace --- http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/what-s-in-electronic-devices/bfrpvc-toxic#phthalates
36
Health Care Without Harm. 2006. Why health care is moving away from the hazardous plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
In Going green: A resource kit for pollution prevention in health care. 9 Sept. 2009. <http://www.noharm.org/lib/down
loads/pvc/Moving_Away_from_PVC.pdf>
37
"54%3i5PYJDPMPHJDBMQSPmMFGPSWJOZMDIMPSJEFw64%FQBSUNFOUPG)FBMUIBOE)VNBO4FSWJDFT 1VCMJD)FBMUI4FSWJDF
2

38

Health Care Without Harm. 2006. Why health care is moving away from the hazardous plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
In Going green: A resource kit for pollution prevention in health care.
39
E-waste and measures in the Philippines, 2006
40
E-waste and measures in the Philippines, 2006
41
JICA report
42
Electronic waste in the Philippines Status, 3R and policy issues
43
Electronic waste in the Philipines Status, 3R and policy issues
44
GAO paper
45
IUUQXXXVOFQPSH%PDVNFOUT.VMUJMJOHVBM%FGBVMUBTQ %PDVNFOU*%"SUJDMF*%MFOUMPOH
46
BAN Exporting Harm
47
http://www.emb.gov.ph/hazardous/Treater.PDF
48
A. Papa, Hazardous waste piling up in Manila, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 24, 2010. Available online:
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/metro/view/20100124-249217/Hazardous-waste-piling-up-in-Manila (accessed
June 20, 2010).
49
Materials for the Future Foundation. CRT Glass to CRT Glass Recycling, September 2001.
50
Malabon e-waste interview (2009)
51
Payatas e-waste interview (2009)
52
K. Adraneda, Green group wants government to douse open burning, The Philippine Star, March 2, 2009. Available
online: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=444778 (accessed June 20, 2010).
53
&DPXBTUFmFMEJOUFSWJFX +BOVBSZ
54
Electronic waste in the Philippines Status, 3R and policy issues
55
HMR Envirocycle website
56
Video from DTI BOI, JICA, UNDP on Envirocycle website
57
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:2002L0096:20080321:EN:PDF
58
http://europa.eu/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2003/l_037/l_03720030213en00190023.pdf
59
http://www.electronicstakeback.com/promote-good-laws/state-legislation/
60
http://www.pcworld.com/article/195205/india_plans_laws_on_ewaste_management.html
61

http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Draft%20E-waste-Rules%2030.3.10.pdf

62

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm

63

Sec. 4(b), RA 6969.


4FD E
3"4FD I
PG3"EFmOFTIB[BSEPVTXBTUFTBT
[S]ubstances that are without any safe commercial, industrial, agricultural or economic usage and are shipped,
transported or brought from the country of origin for dumping or disposal into or in transit through any part of the
territory of Philippines.
65
Sec. 31(1), AO 29.
66
Annex A, AO 28.
67
Akbayan v. Aquino, Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition, 9 n.30 (S.C. 9 Dec. 2005). (Phil), available at http://pcij.org/
CMPHXQEPDT"LCBZBOQFUJUJPOSF+1&1"QEG5IF+5&1"XBTTUSPOHMZPQQPTFECZTPDJBMNPWFNFOUTCPUIJO5IBJMBOE
and Japan, available at http://www.bilaterals.org/spip.php?rubrique115
68
Japan Accused of Breaching Toxic Waste Trade Treaty, Environmental News Service, 14 March 2007 available at
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-14-02.html.
69
Richard Gutierrez, New Age Trade Agreements and their Possible Contribution to Toxic Trade
vol. 2, Environmental Law Network International 2010, p. 46.
64