Stay Healthy and Go Green: Electronics Waste

Stay Healthy and Go Green: Electronics Waste

What is e-waste?Electronic Waste or e-waste is the term used to describe old, end-of-life electronic appliances such as computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, mobile phones, mp3 players etc. which have been disposed of by their original users. E-waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream because people are upgrading their mobile phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment and printers more frequently than ever before. Mobile phones and computers are causing the biggest problem because they are replaced most often.Public perception of e-waste is often restricted to a narrower sense, comprising mainly of end-of-life information- & telecommunication equipment and consumer electronics. However, technically, electronic waste is only a subset of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). According to the OECD any appliance using an electric power supply that has reached its end-of-life would come under WEEE.WEEE Categories - Large household appliances

- Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools)

- Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products)

- Automatic dispensersElectronic waste (e-waste) now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide, nearly the same amount as all plastic packaging, but it is much more hazardous. Not only developed countries generate e-waste; Asia discards an estimated 12 million tons each year. Large manufacturer like Samsung Electronics Corp. from South Korea, last year estimated their production of AV products like Home Theater System, DVD-Player, and BD-Player are more than 10 million units.Did you know? The average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005.

Mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.

183 million computers were sold worldwide in 2004 - 11.6 percent more than in 2003.

674 million mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2004 - 30 percent more than in 2003.

By 2010, there will be 716 million new computers in use. There will be 178 million new computer users in China, 80 million new users in India.

20-50 million tons of waste generated every year.

Electronic waste substancesElectrical and electronic equipment are made up of a multitude of components, some containing toxic substances which can have an adverse impact on human health and the environment if not handled properly. Often, these hazards arise due to the improper recycling and disposal processes used. For example, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) have high content of carcinogens such as lead, barium, phosphor and other heavy metals. When disposed carefully in a controlled environment, they do not pose any serious health or environmental risk. However, breaking, recycling or disposing CRTs in an uncontrolled environment without the necessary safety precautions can result in harmful side effects for the workers and release toxins into the soil, air and groundwater.Elements found in trace amounts include americium, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismuth, boron, cobalt, europium, gallium, germanium, gold, indium, lithium, manganese, nickel, niobium, palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, selenium, silver, tantalum, terbium, thorium, titanium, vanadium, and yttrium. Almost all electronics contain lead and tin (as solder) and copper (as wire and printed circuit board tracks), though the use of lead-free solder is now spreading rapidly. The following are ordinary applications:HazardousAmericium: smoke alarms (radioactive source).

Mercury: fluorescent tubes (numerous applications), tilt switches (mechanical doorbells, thermostats).

PBBs: Predecessor of PCBs. Also used as flame retardant. Banned from 1973-1977 on.

PCBs: prior to ban, almost all 1930s1970s equipment, including capacitors, transformers, wiring insulation, paints, inks, and flexible sealants. Banned during the 1980s.

Cadmium: light-sensitive resistors, corrosion-resistant alloys for marine and aviation environments, nickel-cadmium batteries.

Lead: solder, CRT monitor glass, lead-acid batteries, some formulations of PVC. A typical 15-inch cathode ray tube may contain 1.5 pounds of lead, but other CRTs have been estimated as having up to 8 pounds of lead.

Beryllium oxide: filler in some thermal interface materials such as thermal grease used on heatsinks for CPUs and power transistors, magnetrons, X-ray-transparent ceramic windows, heat transfer fins in vacuum tubes, and gas lasers.

Polyvinyl chloride: Third most widely produced plastic, contains additional chemicals to change the chemical consistency of the product. Some of these additional chemicals called additives can leach out of vinyl products. Plasticizers that must be added to make PVC flexible have been additives of particular concern. Burning PVC in connection with humidity in the air creates Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), an acid.

Generally non-hazardousTin: solder, coatings on component leads.

Copper: copper wire, printed circuit board tracks, component leads.

Aluminium: nearly all electronic goods using more than a few watts of power (heatsinks), electrolytic capacitors.

Iron: steel chassis, cases, and fixings.

Germanium: 1950s1960s transistorized electronics (bipolar junction transistors).

Silicon: glass, transistors, ICs, printed circuit boards.

Gold: connector plating, primarily in computer equipment.

E-waste managementLandfilling e-waste, one of the most widely used methods of disposal, is prone to hazards because of leachate which often contains heavy water resources. Even state-of-the-art landfills which are sealed to the long-term. Older landfill sites and uncontrolled dumps pose a much greater danger of releasing hazardous emissions. Mercury, Cadmium and Lead are among the most toxic leachates. Mercury, for example, will leach when certain electronic devices such as circuit breakers are destroyed. Lead has been found to leach from broken lead-containing glass, such as the cone glass of cathode ray tubes from TVs and monitors. When brominated flame retarded plastics or plastics containing cadmium are landfilled, both PBDE and cadmium may leach into soil and groundwater. In addition, landfills are also prone to uncontrolled fires which can release toxic fumes. Every country now are try to avoid such kind of management. Slowly they try to reuse or reduce e-waste. But some dangerous attempts are done by some country, they exports e-waste to the developing countries, such as China, India, and some African countries. The developing countries are becoming big dump yards of e-waste. Due to the lack of technology they have, developing countries sometimes use un-proper way to recycle the waste. Simply by burn the plastic I order to get metal or scrapping the CRT or PCB just to get some gold or silver. It will be very dangerous to human body, because hazardous substance generally will absorbed through their respiration or hand when they eat.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,

Today the electronic waste recycling business is in all areas of the developed world a large and rapidly consolidating business. Part of this evolution has involved greater diversion of electronic waste from energy-intensive down cycling processes (e.g., conventional recycling), where equipment is reverted to a raw material form. This diversion is achieved through reuse and refurbishing. The environmental and social benefits of reuse include diminished demand for new products and virgin raw materials (with their own environmental issues); larger quantities of pure water and electricity for associated manufacturing; less packaging per unit; availability of technology to wider swaths of society due to greater affordability of products; and diminished use of landfills. Benefits of RecyclingRecycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.Last but not least, is the awareness from the consumer, understanding of their products is very important. Think about the usage of your electronics device and the material substance, be wise when you decide to change/upgrade and send the old one to the garbage. Every step of your action now will be affect the future generations in the future.Stay healthy and Go Green!

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