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Disposition & Recycling of electronics

Globalization and information technology are being widely recognized as main
drivers of the human civilization in the later part of twentieth century and the 21st
century. The Information Technology (IT) has been the power house of the global
economy particularly since early 1990s. Software and hardware part of IT has
touched most of the parts of social, technical, economic and natural environment.
Exponentially increasing production of computer hardware has posed major
challenges of proper disposal of the waste (e-waste) produced by this industry.
Current study focuses on the effect of usage, dumping and recycling of the
electronic waste on the natural environment.
The paper has five sections. In the introduction section size of the global and
Indian electronics market (particularly computers) has been presented. Next
section is born out of hazardous impact of different chemicals disposed in
environment in the process of computer usage, disposal and inefficient recycling.
The third section brings out the dynamics of international trade, environmental
regulations and technology transfer issues for comprehensive understanding of e-
waste issues mainly caused by computers. The fourth section describes the case of
India in this regard which has been presented in the above mentioned broader
context. The paper is concluded with discussion, conclusion and recommendations
for better management of e-waste.

Environmentalists Teach Dos and Donts of E-Waste by Michel Martin from NPR

In this article Michael Martin interviewesBarbara Kyle, from Electronics Take Back Coalitions, and

Garth Hickle, from a Minnesota Pollution Contra Agency. They explain what happens to electronics after

recycling events. Often, the e-waste is sent to Asia or Africa. Which ends up wreaking havoc on the

health of the people who live there. Kyle says the e-waste is shipped abroad because recyclers can make

money selling it there. And there is a market for this very primitive system of recycling where they can
make money off removing the metals. And many of these countries just don't have the kind of regulatory

infrastructure where they can prevent it from happening - prevent it from coming in. So if it comes in in a

way that the government knows about it, they will say, no, we won't take it. But it's all illegal import.

The reason why a lot of are e-waste ends up in Asia or China is because recyclers can make money selling

it to the primitive recycling programs in Asia and China. Many of these developing countries don't have

regulations on how to extract these precious metals from our electronics. Much of the e-waste is dumped

recycling yards, where people smash open the electronics, remove the valuable metals and when burn the

remains, which releases toxic dioxin gas. Throughout this process, the people are not wearing protective

equipment, and the entire community must breathe in these chemicals. Kyle and Hickle suggest that the

consumer can help eliminate change illegal backyard recycling in developing countries by not buying

product from companies have not committed obligation to collect and recycle their electronics

Following The Trail of Toxic E-Waste by 60 Minutes of CBS News

Due to our love of consumerism and believe that newer is better, Americans annually throw out about

130,000 computers every dayand over 100 million cell phones annually. Many of these electronics

contain toxic chemicals, like lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chlorides. Which can

cause brain damage, kidney diseases, cancer and many other diseases. Since it is against United States

law to export e-waste without special permission, including the cathode-ray tubes from TVs, many

recyclers resort to smuggling containers full of e-waste over to China.

Unfortunately, even those who recycle their e-waste at local advents are unable to know where

their waste is going. They recycle their e-waste continuously, believing theyre doing the responsible

thing. At a recycling event then in Denver, people waited for hours to donate their e-waste to Executive

Recycling, who claimed to recycle their e-waste in the United States.

When asked what people thought happens during recycling, a lot said I would assume they would break

it apart take all the heavy metals and then recycle what is necessary. However, upon investigation, 60

Minutes found that even they ship containers full of e-waste to China for disposal.

A collection of articles on e-waste by David W. Wooddell, published throughout 2008 in National


In the collection of articles addressing a number of topics regarding e-waste, including the difficulty to

recycle electronics, the dangers involved with harnessing the precious metals, and the percent of e-waste

that actually gets recycled. In one article, Wooddell investigates how much trash the world throws away.

In the United States, 1,631 lbs. of trash per person are disposed of each year. Wooddell also

investigates the history of recycling. Due to many personal experiences in the recycling industry, I found

it particularly enlightening. Although the content recycling has existed for some time, the industry only

grew to encompass plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in the 1970s. E-waste rose to the

forefront of the field in the early 2000s at accessibility, consumable technology proliferated. Wooddell

also touches on the bigger picture that is easily lost among the facts and numbers. The toxicity released

through the improper disposal of e-waste affects society on a global scale, not just single countries or

cities. Furthermore, mainly of the metals that are being harvested from e-waste are turn into other

products and shipped back to the United States. Some of these metals are still leaking toxins, and can be

harmful to the consumer.

Various departments of the government, public as well as private sectors are
responsible for fast feeding of old electronic appliances such as computers,
telephones, mobile phone, etc, into the waste stream. Other sources of e-waste are
retailers, individual households, foreign embassies, PC manufacturing units,
players of the secondary market, and imported electronic scraps from other
countries. Individual households have the least contribution in generating of IT
product obsolescence. Most Indian households prefer to pass their obsolete
technology to near and dear ones or exchange it from the retailer. It is the illegal
dumping of junked computers from other parts of the world that generates the
biggest part of the e-waste In India; the mountains of e-waste have not yet
manifested themselves. This is because of the propensity not to throw away
equipment, even if it is obsolete, till it becomes totally unserviceable. But, in the
younger generation, this attitude is changing and the throwaway culture of the west
is slowly permeating into the country. Another factor limiting generation of e-
waste in India is that we do not have a sizeable IT hardware manufacturing
infrastructure as yet. We also commenced large scale computerization a bit late in
this country, compared to the developed countries.

Most waste is inherently dangerous. It can degrade to produce leachate, which may
contaminate ground water, and create landfill gas, which is explosive. In addition,
because of the dangers associated with landfill sites, there are now very strict
requirements on the construction, operation and aftercare of such sites. Most
planning authorities want a worked out quarry to be used for landscaping rather
than a landfill site which no one wants in their back yard. Product design must
be employed to help to minimize not only the nature and amount of waste, but also
to maximize end-of-life recycling. Manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers
should share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products.
Adopt product stewardship approach i.e. a product-centered approach should be
adopted to preserve and protect environment.
Realff, M. J., J. C. Ammons, and D. J. Newton (2004). "Robust reverse production system design
for carpet recycling," IIE Transactions, vol. 36, pp. 767-776, 2004
Johnson, M. R. and M. H. Wang (1998), "Economical evaluation of disassembly operations for
recycling, remanufacturing and reuse," International Journal of Production Research, vol. 36, pp.
3227- 3252, 1998
Nixon, H. O. A. Ogunseitan, J.-D. Saphores, and A. A. Shapiro, (2007) "Electronic Waste Recycling
Preferences in California: The Role of Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors," in Proceedings of
the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Electronics & the Environment, pp. 251-256.
Available: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=4222892

Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste." 60 Minutes, 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 4 May 2014.

Wooddell, David W. "E-Waste More Information." National Geographic, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 4
May 2014. <http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/E-Waste>.