Contents:1. What is e-waste?2. Issues and problems.3. Electronic waste’s substances.4. Hazardous substances.5. Case study.6. Recycling techniques.7. What you can do?
What is e-waste ?• Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap, or as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) describes discarded electrical or electronic devices,(which are of no use other then hitting your enemy)
Issues and problems:• Rapid changes in technology, changes in media, falling prices, and developing new electronics and discarding old ones, is a huge issue arising.• Technical solutions are available, but in most cases a legal framework, logistics, and other services need to be implemented before a technical solution can be applied.
• Countries likes India Pakistan and China etc are major e-waste recycling countries, but still informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, though these countries are also most likely to reuse and repair electronics. Some electronic scrap components, such as CRTs, may contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium or brominated flame retardants which are very harmful.
Electronic waste substances:• Substances found in large quantities include epoxy resins, fibreglass, PCBs, polyvinyl chlorides ,thermosetting plastics, lead, tin, copper ,silicon ,beryllium, carbon, iron and aluminium.• Elements found in small amounts include cadmium, mercury, and thallium.• Elements found in trace amounts include americium, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismu th, boron, cobalt, europium, gallium, germanium ,gold, indium, lithium, manganese, nickel, niobium, p alladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, selenium, si lver, tantalum, terbium, thorium, titanium, vanadium, and yttrium
Hazardous substances:• Americium: the radioactive source in smoke alarms. It is known to be carcinogenic.• Mercury: found in fluorescent tubes (numerous applications), tilt switches (mechanical doorbells, thermostats),and flat screen monitors. Health effects include sensory impairment, dermatitis, memory loss, and muscle weakness. Environmental effects in animals include death, reduced fertility, slower growth and development.• Sulphur: found in lead-acid batteries. Health effects include liver damage, kidney damage, heart damage, eye and throat irritation. When released in to the environment, it can create sulphuric acid.
• Cadmium: The most common form of cadmium is found in Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries. The inhalation of cadmium can cause severe damage to the lungs and is also known to cause kidney damage.• Lead and beryllium oxide: the are used as solder and thermal grease respectively and are both harmful and cause severe lung infections.
Material composition of personal computersOTHER(includes lead, mercury, copper, zinc and cadmium) Aluminium Ferrous metal Silica/glass Plastics 17% 23% 14% 26% 20%
• The Basel Convention on the Control of Tran boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, usually known simply as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries• Of the 172 parties to the Convention, Afghanistan, Haiti, and the United States have signed the Convention but have not yet ratified it
• Nations that have signed and ratified, along with nations that have signed but have not ratified the agreement.
Electronic waste in china:• Guiyu, China, in Guangdong. Province is made up of four small villages. It is the location of the largest electronic waste (e-waste) site on earth, China is believed to be the predominant recipient of the worlds electronic waste, with a roughly estimated one million tons being shipped there per year, mostly from the United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. The waste arrives via container ships through the ports of Hong Kong or Pearl River Delta at Nanhai.
• From there it is trucked to informal e-waste processing centres such as Guiyu, which receives more e-waste than any other area in China. Guiyu began receiving e-waste around 1995, and today, there are an estimated 150,000 e-waste workers in Guiyu who process the more than 100 truckloads that are dumped into the 52 square kilometre area every day.Guiyu is appropriately nicknamed the "electronic graveyard“.
Health conditions:• Many of the primitive recycling operations in Guiyu are toxic and dangerous to workers health. 88% of workers suffer from neurological, respiratory or digestive abnormalities or skin diseases. Higher than average rates of miscarriage are also reported in the region.• Workers also "cook" circuit boards to remove chips and solders, burn wires and other plastics to liberate metals such as copper; use highly corrosive and dangerous acid baths along the riverbanks to extract gold from the microchips; and sweep printer toner out of cartridges
• A recent study of the area evaluated the extent of heavy metal contamination from the site. Using dust samples, scientists analysed mean heavy metal concentrations in a Guiyu workshop and found that lead and copper were 371 and 115 times higher, respectively, than areas located 30 kilometres away. The same study revealed that sediment from the nearby Lianjiang River was found to be contaminated by polychlorinated byphenyls at a level three times greater than the guideline amount. Studies are under way to assess the extent to which chemicals like these magnify through bioaccumulation.
Once a rice village, the pollution has made Guiyu unable to produce crops for foodand the water of the river undrinkable.
Clean up efforts:• Since 2007, conditions in Guiyu have changed little despite the efforts of the central government to crack down and enforce the long-standing e-waste import ban. Recent studies have revealed some of the highest levels of dioxin ever recorded. However, because of the work of activist groups and increasing awareness of the situation, there is hope for the site to be improved. "It can be done. Look at what happened with lead acid batteries. We discovered they were hazardous, new legislation enforced new ways of dealing with the batteries which led to an infrastructure being created. The key was making it easy for people and companies to participate. It took years to build. E-waste is going the same route. But attitudes have changed and we will get there," Mr. Houghton says. Zheng Songming, head of the Guiyu Township government has published a decree to ban burning electronics in fires and soaking them in sulphuric acid, and promises supervision and fines for violations. Over 800 coal-burning furnaces have been destroyed because of this ordinance, and most notably, air quality has returned to Level II, now technically acceptable for habitation.
Recycling techniques:• In developed countries, electronic waste processing usually first involves dismantling the equipment into various parts (metal frames, power supplies, circuit boards, plastics), often by hand, but increasingly by automated shredding equipment.• The advantages of this process are the humans ability to recognize and save working and repairable parts, including chips, transistors, RAM, etc. The disadvantage is that the labour is cheapest in countries with the lowest health and safety standards.
• An ideal electronic waste recycling plant combines dismantling for component recovery with increased cost-effective processing of bulk electronic waste.• Reuse is an alternative option to recycling because it extends the lifespan of a device. Devices still need eventual recycling, but by allowing others to purchase used electronics, recycling can be postponed and value gained from device use. Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem.
What can you do?• In order to lessen the bulk of e-waste being produced, individuals can do many things;1. Keep your old electronics longer with a little bit of repairing instead of replacing them.2. If discarding old electronics, be sure to recycle them at trusted recycling center having continual improvement elements for quality, environmental and health and safety performance.3. Purchase efficient electronics that do not contain hazardous materials such as mercury and lead.