petek, 07. marec 2008

R.G. Gözüm: Notes about e-waste

E-waste is hazardous. E-waste contains over 1000 different substances, many of which are toxic, and creates serious pollution upon disposal.

E-waste produces much higher volumes of waste in comparison to other consumer goods.

European studies estimate that the volume of e-waste is increasing by 3-5% per year, which is almost three times faster than the municpal waste stream is growing generally.

Each year, European cunsumers are producing 8,7 million tons of e-waste.

Between the years 1997 and 2007 experts estimated that there were more than 500 million obsolete computers in the United States.

Where does e-waste go?

Storage. U.S. government researchers estimate that three quarters of all computers ever sold in the United States remain stockpiled, awaiting disposal. Other studies estimate that the number of these unused, stored, computers in the U.S. will soon be as high as 315-680 million units.

Landfill and incineration. It is thought that most households and small businesses that dispose rather than store their obsolete electronic components send their material to landfills or incinerators rather than take them to recyklers.

Re-use. Re-use constitutes direct second-hand use, or use after slight modifications are made to the original functioning equipment.

Domestic recykling. All of the current information regarding e-waste recykling glaringly fails to point out that most of what is called e-waste recycling today involves recykling in a developing country. All of the studies that have been done fail to make a distinction between domestic recykling in developing countries with the gross assumption that all recykling is the same an all is equal from an environmental standpoint.

Prison. An alternative to export to developing countries, there is another high growth area for e-waste emerging in the U.S. New “electronic recykling facilities” are opening in California and other states – in prisons.

Export to developing countries. The most often overlooked and ignored e-waste management option- export to developing countries under the name of “recykling”. Why? The labor costs are very low (China: $1.50 per day); Environmental and occupational regulations are lax or not well enforced; It is legal in the U.S., despite international law to the contrary, to allow export of hazardous e-waste with no controld whatsoever; Europe keep shipping e-waste labelling it as “recykling”.

What are the possible solutions to this environmental tsunami?

  1. Ban hazardous waste export.
  2. Get the poison out of the products.
  3. Exercise precaution – don’t worsen the situation by creating even more poisonous products.
  4. Make the producers responsible.
  5. Require producers to “take the waste back”.
  6. Design for longevity, upgradability, repair and re-use.
  7. Design for recykling.

...And recykle with joy! Find pictures from the crash keyboard poetry workshop on the rdece flickr.

Anna Ehrlemark retyping R.G's presentation.

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