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Saturday, September 29, 2007

E-Waste (Electronic Waste)


Used electronic products (mobile phones, computers, keyboards, etc.) are being discarded globally – approximately 20-50 million tones annually. And this electronic waste contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled safely. And disposal is expensive.

Electronic scrap from developed countries exports their toxic and hazardous waste to developing countries. Why? Because it is cheaper to dump these waste that dispose of it properly in their country.

We also have a share of this imported electronic waste. We can buy it at second hand computer shops (mostly computers from US, Australia and Korea). Later these second hand computers will add to our municipal solid waste stream and in our scarp yards. Improper disposal and recycling of these high tech-highly toxic wastes will harm our environment and our people. People who are at risk are the scavengers of dumpsite and workers of recycling yards, particularly the children and pregnant women.

A mobile phone may contain toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium, and hazardous chemicals, such as brominated flame-retardants. And polluting PVC plastic are mostly used on mobile phones. Even low levels of mercury and lead can harm children and developing fetuses.

Although we are a not a big dumping site of electronic waste, compared to China, we must be aware of the dangers of these electronic waste. The government, DENR-DTI, with technical assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has just launched an e-waste collection and recycling focused on cell phone accessories.

But how about large electronic devices like TV, computers, mobile phones, printers etc. What is the proper way of disposal? What should be done?


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