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E-waste By Naomi Brisco- Rhone Photo courtesy of Recycling Council of Ontario.

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1 E-waste By Naomi Brisco- Rhone Photo courtesy of Recycling Council of Ontario

2 What is E-waste? E-waste- Thesis: E-waste is a growing problem in our increasing technological world. The exportation of e-waste to less regulated developing world is raising many issues concerning, environmental and public health, governmental and corporate responsibility, and possible solutions to curb the management of e-waste. A general term applied to consumer and business electronic equipment that is no longer functional. This definition for e-waste can include such things as computers, cell phones, monitors, televisions and other electronics.

3 Why is it a problem? E-waste is a problem because many electronics such as computers contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and beryllium. As careless exportation of such waste increases to developing regions the health risk to both people and environments of these areas also greatens. Furthermore many of the methods people use to dismantle the technology for parts, repair, or simply discard often expose them to an even greater risk.

4 Where is it a problem? E-waste is a global problem, yet due to lack of regulation in exportation the problem is exacerbated in many developing countries such as India, China, and many nations of Africa. My focus is on e-waste in India and Nigeria

5 Click the link below the image to open a high resolution photo. Photos from the Report may not be used without additional approval from BAN. Contact Children standing in front of smoldering electronic waste dump just outside of the Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria. Burned electronic waste produced polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and heavy metal emissions - carcinogenic and highly toxic chemicals. These children live next to the dump. –photo by Basel action

6 Players and facts about them In Lagos Nigeria as much as 75% of the imports – roughly 400,000 computers or monitors each month – “are not economically repairable and are being discarded and routinely burned” Discarded computers and other consumer electronics (so called e-waste) are the fastest growing portion of our waste stream The 315 million or more computers that have or will become obsolete contain a total of more than 1.2 billion pounds of lead. Less than 10% of discarded computers are currently recycled 80% of collected e-waste -- is shipped overseas for dismantling Recyclers regularly suffer from complaints such as respiratory diseases and skin rashes. The people actually doing the brunt of the recycling are people on less than half a dollar a day - women and children

7 Social and Environmental impact There are several social and environmental impacts of e-waste Health and Environment: It is estimated that most of the electronics, particularly computers contain harmful amounts of lead and other toxins that can be released in to the soil, air, and water. Often the methods of disposal and recycling exposes people to unnecessary levels of toxic chemicals.

8 Economic Aspects The motive behind e-waste exportation is profit and expense Many of those in developing countries have grown to depend on the importation of e-waste for employment and the gathering of things like gold, and parts for trade Presently, the cost of managing discarded computers and electronics falls on taxpayers and local governments

9 What is Being Done? Basel Convention- A legal agreement constructed to control the movement of hazardous material internationally. contains two major restrictions on waste movements. The first restriction requires that exports of waste occur only under the following circumstances: 1)If the exporting country does not have sufficient disposal capacity 2)If the exporting country does not have disposal sites that can dispose of the waste in an environmentally sound manner 3)If the wastes are required as a raw material for recycling or recovery industries in the importing country. Note: The US has signed the Convention but has not ratified it BAN (Basel Action Network ) “is the world's only organization focused on confronting the excesses of unbridled free trade in the form of “Toxic Trade” (trade in toxic wastes, toxic products and toxic technologies) and its devastating impact on global environmental justice.”

10 Legislation What legislation needs? Incentives for electronic producers to design products with longer life-spans, increased recyclability, and with fewer toxic materials. Should create an effective system for environmentally responsible recycling and re- use of consumer electronic products. What is currently in place? US and Europe: Waste Shipment Regulation( European Union) bans the export of hazardous electronic waste to developing countries. Maine, California, and Maryland currently have legislation encouraging recycling programs. “In 2005, 26 state legislatures considered some form of e-waste legislation, ranging from landfill bans to study committees to taxpayer/industry funded grant programs.” Nigeria in 1988 announced prohibition of all imports of hazardous wastes without special government authorization India: Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules(1998 )- designed to control the import of hazardous wastes from any part of the world into India


12 Problems Many of the measures and rules set up to curb such illegal export/import practices are rarely enforced. The importation of e-waste is being disguised as “bridging the digital divide and under the notion of re-use The practice of e-waste dumping is very profitable Companies are not required to build more eco-friendly and easily recyclable equipment. (HP and IBM are trying) Can be applied to ships carrying waste only in European waters © Basel Action Network 2005 © Basel Action Network 2005

13 Credits “EC Highlights Problems of Enforcing Basel Convention.” Lloyd's List. August 3, 2005, Issue #58968; Front Page News; Pg. 1 Justin Stares in Brussels. LexisNexis. 1/27/05 “Electronic Waste” The Computer Take Back Campaign. “E-waste” Basel Action Network – BAN 11/20/05 “E-waste Guide.” 2005 11/20/05 “Growing concern over India's e-waste,” BBC News. Dec 2003 11/29/05 11/29/05. Harder, Ben. “Toxic E-Waste Gets Cached in Poor Nations.” 11/8/2005. National Geographic News 11/19/05. Kummer, Katharina. “The International Regulation of Trans-boundary Traffic in Hazardous Wastes: The 1989 Basel Convention.” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3. (Jul., 1992), pp. 530-562.Stable URL: 5893%28199207%2941%3A3%3C530%3ATIROTT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q 11/25/05 5893%28199207%2941%3A3%3C530%3ATIROTT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q “UN Program Aims at the Environmentally Sound Disposal of Electronic Waste,” States News Service, November 25, 2005 States News Service, New York.LexisNexis.11/27/05

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