This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Course: Ecology and Society Assignment – 1 : Term Paper Submitted to the Course Teacher: Prof. Tiplut Nongbri
‘THE E-WASTE AND ITS EFFECT ON THE HUMAN HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT’
Abstracts: E-waste is the abbreviation of the waste electrical and electronics equipments. These are the gadgets that are used by the people in their day to day life. Once their life gets over or these equipments go out of order, they are immediately replaced with the newer ones. In other cases these items are even get replaced just to get the latest version of the facility. For example, the mobile and the television sets are being replaced for this purpose only. Hardly is it concerned what those items make once these are disposed of. But these e-wastes pose a great danger as most of these items are consist of harmful elements like lead, cadmium, bromine and mercury which are capable of causing a lot of damage to the human body if get exposed for a considerable period of time. Another problem that these items possess is the same amount of danger to the environment as well. It is because these waste materials consume a significant portion of space as keep on lying for a long period of time as these are not at all bio-degradable. And most of the harmful elements leach into the soil causing both land as well as water pollution. The problem came into the fore as most of the western countries including U.S.A started replacing rapidly their electronic gadgets and disposed them in the coasts of the developing countries of South Asia, India and China in the name of recycling. It is because these countries have the cheap labour and adequate recycling facility. But the recycling process not being of the scientific type, it adds only to the degradation of environment. The perfect example is the area of Guiyu of China. After all, these e-waste materials are the emerging threat to both the human beings and the environment which are needed to be taken care at the earliest. This paper deals with some of the basic concepts like what is e-waste, why and how these wastes are created, what are generally done to these e-waste materials as well as the methods that should be applied for the management of these wastes.
1. Chapter 1: introduction 1.1: What is E-waste..? 1.2: Classification of e-waste 1.3: Why is the e-waste? 1.4: What is generally done with these e-waste materials! 2. Chapter 2: Effects on environment and human health 3. Chapter 3: E-waste and the world scenario 3.1: Minimizing hazardous wastes: birth of the Basel convention 4. Chapter 4: Indian Scenario 4.1: E-Parisaraa - The first e-waste management institution in India. 5. Chapter 5: Management of e-wastes: 5.1: Inventory management 5.2: Production-process modification 5.3: Volume reduction 5.4: Recovery and reuse 5.5: Sustainable product design 6. Chapter 6: Preventory options to tackle the e-wastes 6.1: Responsibilities of the Government 6.2: Responsibility and Role of industries 6.3: Responsibilities of the Citizen 7. Conclusion 8. References Contents of figure: 1. Composition of the total E-waste product Contents of table: 2. Table 1: E-waste materials and their effect on the human health
1 1 1 3 4 4 6 6 7 8 9 9 9 11 11 11 12 12 13 14 14 16
Chapter 1: Introduction: The modern lifestyle and its benefits exist because of industry. Health-giving pharmaceuticals, labour-saving household appliances, automobiles and ships, paints and detergents, synthetic fibres and polythene packaging, personal computers and TVs – the list of useful manufactured goods is almost endless. With the advent of new technology and the requirement of replacement, we keep on updating our electronic gadgets for a happy material life. But these useful things become harmful when these are ceased to be functioning. They add to the volume of waste materials and put detrimental impact to both our health and environment as most of these items contain harmful elements like lead, fibre, mercury and bromine etc. These solid wastes are neither composed nor recycled which creates a huge problem to the environment as well as the human beings. This electronic waste is now a major cause of concern which is no less significant than the other problems those cause air, water, land and nuclear pollution. 1.1: What is E-waste..? Electronic waste, popularly known as ‘e-waste’ can be defined as electronic equipments or products connecting with power plug or batteries which have become obsolete due to: advancement in technology, changes in fashion, style and status and also nearing the end of their useful life. ‘E-waste’ is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life. ‘E-wastes’ are considered dangerous, as certain components of some electronic products contain materials that are hazardous, depending on their condition and density. The hazardous content of these materials pose a threat to human health and environment. Discarded computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines, electric lamps, cell phones, audio equipment and batteries if improperly disposed can leach lead and other substances into soil and groundwater. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled in an environmentally sound manner so that they are less harmful to the ecosystem. 1.2: Classification of e-waste: E-waste encompasses ever growing range of obsolete electronic devices such as computers, servers, main frames, monitors, TVs & display devices, telecommunication devices such as cellular phones & pagers, calculators, audio and video devices, printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines besides refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and microwave ovens, e-waste also covers recording devices such as DVDs, CDs, floppies, tapes, printing cartridges, military electronic waste, automobile catalytic converters, electronic components such as chips, processors, mother boards, printed circuit boards, industrial electronics such as sensors, alarms, sirens, security devices, automobile electronic devices. Here’s a startling fact. Electronic waste is the fastest growing segment in our waste stream and while most of this so-called e waste is recyclable – less than 20% actually is. In many states, it’s illegal to send this stuff to the landfill. Electronics contain toxic heavy metals and
Page | 1
e-waste is the leading source of these toxins in landfills where it is exposed to our environment. E-waste is also a source of valuable metals like gold, silver and copper and makes e-waste recycling a growing industry. Here are some of the sources of e-waste in this country. 1. Televisions The government estimates that roughly 27 million televisions are replaced each year but only 18% are recycled. It’s also believed that millions of unused TVs are stored in closets, attics and electronic repairing shops all across the country. Considering the large volume of e-waste, these TVs should be recycled but it’s not always easy. Now some of the companies have taken initiative to draw the used and out of order TVs from the household users for recycling. The condition has aggravated further due to the introduction of the new high-end luxury Plasma screens and LCDs (liquid crystal display) in place of the old CRT (cathode ray tube) screens. 2. Computers Roughly 30 million desktop and laptop computers are thrown out each year. It’s a mind boggling number so think of it this way – Americans discard more than 110,000 computers a week. Among the e-waste items, the volume of these computers is growing rapidly as it has been the most fast-hand electronics gadget that is used for multiple works. The monitor, motherboard, chips, microchips, CRT or LCD screens, keyboards and a lot of spare parts are adding to the volume of e-waste every day. 3. Cell Phones Perhaps this has become the common gadget for every person in the world. Due to its affordability and necessity, its number is growing significantly and every additional cell phone in place of the older one is adding to the total amount of electronics waste every day. It has been estimated that every year an approximate amount of 140 million cell phones are being discarded and in this field the developed countries are quite ahead. The reason is well known. The arrival of multimedia sets, technologically advanced Blackberry, Java and Android multipurpose cell phones are being readily replaced by the users. 4. Other Entertainment Devices This is the other e-waste that adds up quickly. Electronic items such as DVD players, mp3 devices, digital cameras, headphones, etc are the worst offenders. They are a large part of the 400 million pieces of e-waste that are discarded each year. Working items can be given a second life when donated to a local charity. Non-working items can be recycled for valuable metal components. These items, being of low cost gadgets, are never repaired or recycled rather; are replaced forthwith in case they go out of order.
Page | 2
1 Source: report of the Environmental bulletin (January, 2005), by the United Nations Environment Programme.
The above figure shows the proportion of the electronic equipments which make the ewaste. Among them are the television sets, cell phones, computer and accessories and the other entertainment and luxurious gadgets such as camera, CDs, DVDs, VCR players, tape Cassette & cassette players, freezers, coolers, Air conditioners etc. It has been observed that the TV sets and the cell phones are the most items those are being replaced rapidly as new inventions are flooding the market and the techno-savvy people are desperate to update themselves with the latest ones without caring for the old items that simply goes on adding the existing volume of wastes. Then comes the PCs and its accessories such as chips, cable wares, conductors and semi-conductors, screens, key-boards, mouse etc. 1.3: Why is the e-waste? Now these days this electronic waste has become a serious cause of concern as it poses the imminent threat to the environment. The most important thing is that it is growing in an alarming rate. The first question that comes is why it is growing rapidly? It is because of the rapid change of technology, population explosion, stability of the financial status etc. The amount of e-waste was not of such a volume as it is there. But it increased rapidly due to the change of technology. The change started from the replacement of the old CRT model television sets that were replaced with the LCDs. The eighties witnessed the faster increase of these e-wastes as most of the electronics items were being replaced with the comparative newer and better ones in the America and the European countries. The faster rate of change came with the paradigmatic shift of technologies. As we take the example of TV sets, the first generation cell phones are replaced by the second and third generation mobiles. The change of appliance technology like blackberry, android and Java etc. furthered the replacement process. Apart from the change of technology, some other social reasons those are responsible are the betterment of the financial status of the people. In comparison to the earlier situation, now these days the consumers have more purchase capacity and they have much more wider verity of goods. Again the social prestige which forces the consumer to change the old item, the ambition to maintain a luxurious life as well as the disinterestedness to get the out of order equipment repaired are among these causes which contributed to the amassment of the e-waste.
Page | 3
1.4: What is generally done with these e-waste materials! Generally, the electronics items are thrown in the dustbin or stashed somewhere else after it goes out of order or when its life time ends. It happens in most of the cases that after we replace an old TV with a new one we generally don’t immediately throw it away. Rather it is kept in the house unnecessarily. But some other electronic gadgets like CDs, audio cassettes and floppy discs etc. are immediately thrown. These waste materials are seriously nonbiodegradable. These materials contain plastics, fibre and metals which are not composted at all. Again those materials which are not thrown away are stashed somewhere, consume a lot of space. These materials together are disposed and used in landfilling or burned to get the metals. It is because of the lack of recycling facilities available in the vicinity. Almost 90 percent of the waste materials are disposed rather being recycled. In any of the cases, it damages to the environment. In case of landfilling, the materials are not composed and the toxic items contained in it are leached into the ground causing land as well as the water pollution. Similarly when these items are burned, it adds to the air pollution. It is the matter of concern that these materials are made of highly poisonous items like lead, chromium, arsenic and mercury etc. which have the ability to cause serious damage to the human health as well as to the environment at large. Chapter 2: Effects on environment and human health: Disposal of e-wastes is a particular problem faced in many regions across the globe. Computer wastes that are land-filled produces contaminated leachates which eventually pollute the groundwater. Acids and sludge obtained from melting computer chips, if disposed on the ground causes acidification of soil. For example, Guiyu 1, Hong Kong a thriving area of illegal e-waste recycling is facing acute water shortages due to the contamination of water resources. This is due to disposal of recycling wastes such as acids, sludges etc. in rivers. Now water is being transported from faraway towns to cater to the demands of the population. Incineration of e-wastes can emit toxic fumes and gases, thereby polluting the surrounding air. Improperly monitored landfills can cause environmental hazards. Mercury will leach when certain electronic devices, such as circuit breakers are destroyed. The same is true for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from condensers. When brominated flame retardant plastic or cadmium containing plastics are landfilled, both polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and cadmium may leach into the soil and groundwater. It has been found that significant amounts of lead ion are dissolved from broken lead containing glass, such as the cone glass of cathode ray tubes, gets mixed with acid waters and are a common occurrence in landfills.
It is a place in the Guangzhou province of China where a large number of such e-wastes are shipped from the European countries and America. There the recycling process is not taken in a scientific which results in an alarming rate of pollution. It comes under the tenth most polluted places of the world.
Page | 4
Not only does the leaching of mercury poses specific problems, the vaporization of metallic mercury and dimethylene mercury, both part of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is also of concern. In addition, uncontrolled fires may arise at landfills and this could be a frequent occurrence in many countries. When exposed to fire, metals and other chemical substances, such as the extremely toxic dioxins and furans from halogenated flame retardant products and PCB containing condensers can be emitted. The most dangerous form of burning e-waste is the open-air burning of plastics in order to recover copper and other metals. The toxic fall-out from open air burning affects both the local environment and broader global air currents, depositing highly toxic by products in many places throughout the world.
Table 2: E-waste materials and their effect on the human health
Sources of waste Solder in printed circuit boards, glass panels and gaskets in computer monitors
Constituent materials Lead (Pb)
Effects on health Damage to central and peripheral nervous systems, blood systems and kidney damage. Affects brain development of children. Toxic irreversible effects on human health. Accumulates in kidney and liver. Causes neural damage. It is Teratogenic. Chronic damage to the brain. Respiratory and skin disorders due to bioaccumulation in fishes. Short term exposure causes: Muscle weakness; Damage to heart, liver and spleen. Carcinogenic (lung cancer) Inhalation of fumes and dust. Causes chronic beryllium disease or beryllicosis. Skin diseases such as warts.
Chip resistors and semiconductors
Relays and switches, printed circuit boards
Front panel of CRTs
Motherboard of computers
Page | 5
Relays and switches, printed circuit boards Mercury (Hg)
Chronic damage to the brain. Respiratory and skin disorders due to bioaccumulation in fishes.
1 Source: report published in 2004 by the Energy and Wetlands Group, Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Table I summarizes the health effects of certain constituents in e-wastes. If these electronic items are discarded with other household garbage, the toxics pose a threat to both health and vital components of the ecosystem. Chapter 3: E-waste and the world scenario: Industrial production results in hundreds of millions of tonnes of wastes every year. These wastes include chemical by-products that are hazardous to human health and the environment because they are poisonous, eco-toxic, explosive, corrosive, flammable, or infectious. Too often these wastes pour out of smokestacks and outtake pipes or lie abandoned in dumps or leaky storage drums. Sometimes wastes are shipped off illegally to faraway places, exposing unsuspecting communities to terrible dangers. The cross-border transport of hazardous wastes seized the public’s attention in the late 1980s. The misadventures of “toxic ships” such as the Karin B and the Pelicano, sailing from port to port, trying to offload their poisonous cargoes, made front-page headlines around the world. These tragic incidents were motivated in good part by tighter environmental regulations in industrialized countries. As the costs of waste disposal skyrocketed, “toxictraders” searching for cheaper solutions started shipping hazardous wastes to Eastern Europe and Africa and other regions. Once on shore, unwanted shipments are typically dumped indiscriminately, spilled accidentally or managed improperly, causing severe health problems, even death and poisoning the land, water and air for decades or centuries. These criminal shipments are so morally repugnant that they must be stopped and their perpetrators be brought to justice. But toxic ships are just a symptom of a much more fundamental problem: If the production of goods did not generate so much hazardous waste, if this waste were not so dangerous, if wealthier communities did not resist new treatment plants and dumps, and if the costs of detoxifying wastes were not so astronomical there would be less financial incentive to cheat and dump wastes illegally. 3.1: Minimizing hazardous wastes: birth of the Basel convention: In view of the ill-effects of hazardous wastes to both environment and health, several countries exhorted the need for a global agreement to address the problems and challenges posed by hazardous waste. Also, in the late 1970s, a tightening of environmental regulations
Page | 6
in industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to get rid of the wastes, "toxic traders" began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries. Recognizing that industrial society must fix this major flaw in the system, governments – and many forward-looking companies – started exploring solutions as early as the 1980s. By the time, the international community launched treaty negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme. International outrage following these irresponsible activities led to the drafting and adoption of strategic plans and regulations at the Basel Convention. In March 1989, they adopted the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The treaty entered into force in 1992 and now boasts over 160 Parties. The Convention secretariat, in Geneva, Switzerland, facilitates and implementation of the Convention and related agreements. It also provides assistance and guidelines on legal and technical issues, gathers statistical data, and conducts training on the proper management of hazardous waste. Drawing on the principles of “environmentally sound management”, the Convention seeks to protect human health and the environment from the dangers posed by hazardous wastes. This will require changing the economic equation for wastes in order to motivate the producers of hazardous wastes and people who benefit from the associated goods to take action. To do this, the Convention sets out a three-step strategy for minimizing the generation of wastes, treating wastes as near as possible to where they were generated, and reducing international movements of hazardous wastes. Chapter 4: Indian Scenario: While the world is marvelling at the technological revolution, countries like India are facing an imminent danger. E-waste of developed countries, such as the US, dispose their wastes to India and other Asian countries. Investigations reveals that much of the electronics turned over for recycling in the United States ends up in Asia, where they are either disposed of or recycled with little or no regard for environmental or worker health and safety. Major reasons for exports are cheap labour and lack of environmental and occupational standards in Asia and in this way the toxic effluent of the developed nations 'would flood towards the world's poorest nations. The magnitude of these problems is yet to be documented. However, groups like Toxic Links India are already working on collating data that could be a step towards controlling this hazardous trade. It is imperative that developing countries and India in particular wake up to the monopoly of the developed countries and set up appropriate management measures to prevent the hazards and mishaps due to mismanagement of e-wastes. In the domestic field also, there is an estimate that the total obsolete computers originating from government offices, business houses, industries and household is of the order of 2 million nos. Manufactures and assemblers in a single calendar year, estimated to produce around 1200 tons of electronic scrap. It should be noted that obsolete rate of personal
Page | 7
computers (PC) is one in every two years. The consumers find it convenient to buy a new computer rather than upgrade the old one due to the changing configuration, technology and the attractive offers of the manufacturers. Due to the lack of governmental legislations on e-waste, standards for disposal, proper mechanism for handling these toxic hi-tech products, mostly end up in landfills or partly recycled in a unhygienic conditions and partly thrown into waste streams. Computer waste is generated from the individual households; the government, public and private sectors; computer retailers; manufacturers; foreign embassies; secondary markets of old PCs. Of these, the biggest source of PC scrap is foreign countries that export huge computer waste in the form of reusable components. Electronic waste or e-waste is one of the rapidly growing environmental problems of the world. In India, the electronic waste management assumes greater significance not only due to the generation of our own waste but also dumping of e-waste particularly computer waste from the developed countries. With extensively using computers and electronic equipments and people dumping old electronic goods for new ones, the amount of E-Waste generated has been steadily increasing. At present Bangalore alone generates about 8000 tonnes of computer waste annually and in the absence of proper disposal, they find their way to scrap dealers. 4.1 E-Parisaraa - The first e-waste management institution in India. While looking at the e-waste problem in India, it is essential to mention the E-Parisaraa, an eco-friendly recycling unit on the outskirts of Bangalore which is located in Dobaspet industrial area, Bangalore, which makes full use of E-Waste. The plant which is India’s first scientific e-waste recycling unit will reduce pollution, landfill waste and recover valuable metals, plastics & glass from waste in an eco-friendly manner. E-Parisaraa has developed a circuit to extend the life of tube lights. The circuit helps to extend the life of fluorescent tubes by more than 2000 hours. If the circuits are used, tube lights can work on lower voltages. The initiative is to aim at reducing the accumulation of used and discarded electronic and electrical equipments. E-Parisaraa’s Director Mr. P. Parthasarathy, an IIT Madras graduate, and a former consultant for a similar e-waste recycling unit in Singapore, has developed an eco-friendly methodology for reusing, recycling and recovery of metals, glass & plastics with non-incineration methods. The hazardous materials are segregated separately and send for secure land fill for ex.: phosphor coating, LED’s, mercury etc. They have the technology to recycle most of the e-waste and only less than one per cent of this will be regarded as waste, which can go into secure landfill planned in the vicinity by the HAWA project. India as a developing country needs simpler, low cost technology keeping in view of maximum resource recovery in an environmental friendly methodology. E-Parisaraa, deals with practical aspect of ewaste processing as mentioned below by hand.
Page | 8
Chapter 5: Management of e-wastes: It is estimated that 75 percent 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 implementable management measures. In industries management of e-waste should begin at the point of generation. This can be done by waste minimization techniques and by sustainable product design. Waste minimization in industries involves adopting: • • • • Inventory management Production-process modification Volume reduction Recovery and reuse
5.1 Inventory management Proper control over the materials used in the manufacturing process is an important way to reduce waste generation2. By reducing both the quantity of hazardous materials used in the process and the amount of excess raw materials in stock, the quantity of waste generated can be reduced. This can be done in two ways i.e. establishing material-purchase review and control procedures and inventory tracking system. Developing review procedures for all material purchased is the first step in establishing an inventory management program. Procedures should require that all materials be approved prior to purchase. In the approval process all production materials are evaluated to examine if they contain hazardous constituents and whether alternative non-hazardous materials are available. Another inventory management procedure for waste reduction is to ensure that only the needed quantity of a material is ordered. This will require the establishment of a strict inventory tracking system. Purchase procedures must be implemented which ensure that materials are ordered only on an as-needed basis and that only the amount needed for a specific period of time is ordered. 5.2 Production-process modification Changes can be made in the production process, which will reduce waste generation. This reduction can be accomplished by changing the materials used to make the product or by
Page | 9
the more efficient use of input materials in the production process or both. Potential waste minimization techniques can be broken down into three categories: Improved operating and maintenance procedures. Material change. Process-equipment modification.
Improvements in the operation and maintenance of process equipment can result in significant waste reduction. This can be accomplished by reviewing current operational procedures or lack of procedures and examination of the production process for ways to improve its efficiency. Instituting standard operation procedures can optimise the use of raw materials in the production process and reduce the potential for materials to be lost through leaks and spills. A strict maintenance program, which stresses corrective maintenance, can reduce waste generation caused by equipment failure. An employeetraining program is a key element of any waste reduction program. Training should include correct operating and handling procedures, proper equipment use, recommended maintenance and inspection schedules, correct process control specifications and proper management of waste materials3. Hazardous materials used in either a product formulation or a production process may be replaced with a less hazardous or non-hazardous material. This is a very widely used technique and is applicable to most manufacturing processes. Implementation of this waste ¬reduction technique may require only some minor process adjustments or it may require extensive new process equipment. For example, a circuit board manufacturer can replace solvent-based product with water-based flux and simultaneously replace solvent vapour degreaser with detergent parts washer. Installing more efficient process equipment or modifying existing equipment to take advantage of better production techniques can significantly reduce waste generation. New or updated equipment can use process materials more efficiently producing less waste. Additionally such efficiency reduces the number of rejected or off-specification products, thereby reducing the amount of material which has to be reworked or disposed of. Modifying existing process equipment can be a very cost-effective method of reducing waste generation. In many cases the modification can just be relatively simple changes in the way the materials are handled within the process to ensure that they are not wasted. For example, in many electronic manufacturing operations, which involve coating a product, such as electroplating or painting, chemicals are used to strip off coating from rejected products so that they can be recoated. These chemicals, which can include acids, caustics, cyanides etc are often a hazardous waste and must be properly managed. By reducing the number of parts that have to be reworked, the quantity of waste can be significantly reduced.
Page | 10
5.3 Volume reduction: Volume reduction includes those techniques that remove the hazardous portion of a waste from a non-hazardous portion. These techniques are usually to reduce the volume, and thus the cost of disposing of a waste material. The techniques that can be used to reduce wastestream volume can be divided into 2 general categories: source segregation and waste concentration. Segregation of wastes is in many cases a simple and economical technique for waste reduction. Wastes containing different types of metals can be treated separately so that the metal value in the sludge can be recovered. Concentration of a waste stream may increase the likelihood that the material can be recycled or reused. Methods include gravity and vacuum filtration, ultra filtration, reverse osmosis, freeze vaporization etc. For example, an electronic component manufacturer can use compaction equipments to reduce volume of waste cathode ray-tube. 5.4 Recovery and reuse This technique could eliminate waste disposal costs, reduce raw material costs and provide income from a salable waste. Waste can be recovered on-site, or at an off-site recovery facility, or through inter industry exchange. A number of physical and chemical techniques are available to reclaim a waste material such as reverse osmosis, electrolysis, condensation, electrolytic recovery, filtration, centrifugation etc. For example, a printedcircuit board manufacturer can use electrolytic recovery to reclaim metals from copper and tin-lead plating bath. However recycling of hazardous products has little environmental benefit if it simply moves the hazards into secondary products that eventually have to be disposed of. Unless the goal is to redesign the product to use non-hazardous materials, such recycling is a false solution. 5.5 Sustainable product design Minimization of hazardous wastes can be achieved at product design stage itself keeping in mind the following factors such as: • Rethink the product design: Efforts should be made to design a product with fewer amounts of hazardous materials. For example, the efforts to reduce material use are reflected in some new computer designs that are flatter, lighter and more integrated. Other companies propose centralized networks similar to the telephone system. • Use of renewable materials and energy: Bio-based plastics are plastics made with plant-based chemicals or plant-produced polymers rather than from petro-chemicals. Biobased toners, glues and inks are used more frequently. Solar computers also exist but they are currently very expensive.
Page | 11
• Use of non-renewable materials that are safer: Because many of the materials used are non-renewable, designers could ensure the product is built for re-use, repair and/or upgradeability. Some computer manufacturers such as Dell and Gateway lease out their products thereby ensuring they get them back to further upgrade and lease out again. CHAPTER 6: PREVENTORY OPTIONS TO TACKLE THE E-WASTES Considering the severity of the problem, it is imperative that certain management options be adopted to handle the bulk e-wastes. Following are some of the management options suggested for the government, industries and the public. 6.1 Responsibilities of the Government Governments should set up regulatory agencies in each district, which are vested with the responsibility of co-ordinating and consolidating the regulatory functions of the various government authorities regarding hazardous substances. Governments should be responsible for providing an adequate system of laws, controls and administrative procedures for hazardous waste management (Third World Network. 1991). Existing laws concerning e-waste disposal be reviewed and revamped. A comprehensive law that provides e-waste regulation and management and proper disposal of hazardous wastes is required. Such a law should empower the agency to control, supervise and regulate the relevant activities of government departments. Under this law, the agency concerned should a. Collect basic information on the materials from manufacturers, processors and importers and to maintain an inventory of these materials. The information should include toxicity and potential harmful effects. b. Identify potentially harmful substances and require the industry to test them for adverse health and environmental effects. c. Control risks from manufacture, processing, distribution, use and disposal of electronic wastes. d. Encourage beneficial reuse of "e-waste" and encouraging business activities that use waste". Set up programs so as to promote recycling among citizens and businesses. e. Educate e-waste generators on reuse/recycling options Governments must encourage research into the development and standard of hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring and the regulation of hazardous waste-disposal. Governments should enforce strict regulations against dumping e-waste in the country by outsiders. Where the laws are flouted, stringent penalties must be
Page | 12
imposed. In particular, custodial sentences should be preferred to paltry fines, which these outsiders / foreign nationals can pay. Governments should enforce strict regulations and heavy fines levied on industries, which do not practice waste prevention and recovery in the production facilities. Polluter pays principle and extended producer responsibility should be adopted. Governments should encourage and support NGOs and other organizations to involve actively in solving the nation's e-waste problems. Uncontrolled dumping is an unsatisfactory method for disposal of hazardous waste and should be phased out. Governments should explore opportunities to partner with manufacturers and retailers to provide recycling services.
6.2 Responsibility and Role of industries 1. Generators of wastes should take responsibility to determine the output characteristics of wastes and if hazardous, should provide management options. 2. 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. Companies can adopt their own policies while handling e-wastes. Some are given below: Use label materials to assist in recycling (particularly plastics). Standardize components for easy disassembly. Re-evaluate 'cheap products' use, make product cycle 'cheap' and so that it has no inherent value that would encourage a recycling infrastructure. Create computer components and peripherals of biodegradable materials. Utilize technology sharing particularly for manufacturing and de manufacturing. Encourage / promote / require green procurement for corporate buyers. Look at green packaging options.
3. Companies can and should adopt waste minimization techniques, which will make a significant reduction in the quantity of e-waste generated and thereby lessening the impact on the environment. It is a "reverse production" system that designs infrastructure to recover and reuse every material contained within e-wastes metals such as lead, copper, aluminium and gold, and various plastics, glass and wire. Such a "closed loop" manufacturing and recovery system offers a win-win situation for everyone, less of the Earth will be mined for raw materials, and groundwater will be protected, researchers explain. 4. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should undertake the responsibility of recycling/disposal of their own products.
Page | 13
5. Manufacturers of computer monitors, television sets and other electronic devices containing hazardous materials must be responsible for educating consumers and the general public regarding the potential threat to public health and the environment posed by their products. At minimum, all computer monitors, television sets and other electronic devices containing hazardous materials must be clearly labelled to identify environmental hazards and proper materials management. 6.3 Responsibilities of the Citizen Waste prevention is perhaps more preferred to any other waste management option including recycling. Donating electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out of the waste management system for a longer time. But care should be taken while donating such items i.e. the items should be in working condition. Reuse, in addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, also benefits society. By donating used electronics, schools, non-profit organizations, and lower-income families can afford to use equipment that they otherwise could not afford. E-wastes should never be disposed with garbage and other household wastes. This should be segregated at the site and sold or donated to various organizations. While buying electronic products the citizens have to opt for those that: are made with fewer toxic constituents use recycled content are energy efficient are designed for easy upgrading or disassembly utilize minimal packaging offer leasing or take back options Have been certified by regulatory authorities. Customers should opt for upgrading their computers or other electronic items to the latest versions rather than buying new equipments. NGOs should adopt a participatory approach in management of e-wastes.
CHAPTER 7: Conclusion: The problem of electronic waste is and in future, is going to be the biggest environmental problem for the world as we are heading ruthlessly towards a technomaniac era. With the ride of science, every technology invent today is being old and obsolete on the next day. And our enthusiasms to update ourselves with the latest gadgets have landed us in such a situation. The important thing is that we are caught between a dilemma as we cannot altogether discard science and technology nor we can manage with the large volume of e-
Page | 14
waste that are being produced due to the aforesaid process. So the need of the hour is to strike a right balance between technological advancement and waste management. The guidelines of the Basel Action Network, the Basel Convention, the e-waste management laws that are in the offing are useful in averting such catastrophic pollution that we are heading to.
Page | 15
1. Freeman M. H. 1989. Standard Handbook of Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal, McGraw-Hill Company, USA. 2. Third World Network. Toxic Terror: Dumping of Hazardous Wastes in the Third World, Third World Network, Malaysia. 1991. 3. Widmer, R., et al., Global Perspectives on E-Waste. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 2005 4. ‘Minimising hazardous wastes: A simple guide to the Basel Convention’ published by the United Nations Environment Programme. 2005 5. ‘Exporting Harm: The high-tech Thrashing of Asia’ published by the Basel Action Network (BAN). 2002 6. ‘Annual report - 2010’ of Solving The E-waste Problem (STEP) 7. ‘Basel convention on the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes
and their disposal’ by Katharina Kummer Peiry. 2010
Page | 16
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.