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e-WASTE MANAGEMENT For Safe and Clean Environment --for essay writing and GD

For Safe and Clean Environment

e-Waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is the term used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances using electricity. It includes computers, consumer electronics, fridges etc which have been disposed of by their original users. ‘e-Waste’ is used as a generic term embracing all types of waste containing electrically powered components. e-Waste contains both valuable as well as hazardous materials which require special handling and recycling methods.

e-Waste consists of all waste from electronic and electrical appliances which have reached their end-of-life period or are no longer fit for their original intended use and are destined for recovery, recycling or disposal.
It consists of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, glass, wood and plywood, printed circuit boards, concrete, ceramics, rubber and other items. Iron and steel constitute about 50% of the waste, followed by plastics (21%), non-ferrous metals (13%) and other constituents.
Non-ferrous metals consist of metals like copper, aluminium and precious metals like silver, gold , platinum, palladium and so on. The presence of elements like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, quantities make e-waste hazardous in nature.
The Problem with Electronics and e-Waste
Products are Quickly Obsolete and Discarded- In the USA, about 400 million units per year of consumer electronics were scrapped, according to recycling industry experts. Rapid advances in technology mean that electronic products are becoming obsolete more quickly. This, coupled with explosive sales in consumer electronics, means that more products are being disposed, even if they still work.
Electronics are Difficult to Recycle:
·         Recycling electronics is not like recycling cardboard. These products are not easy to recycle. Proper and safe recycling often costs more money than the materials are worth. Reasons are
·         Electronics are not Designed for Recycling Materials used and physical designs make recycling challenging. While companies claim to offer ‘green electronics’, we are a far way from truly green products.
·         Electronics Contain Many Toxic Materials Monitors and televisions made with tubes (not flat panels) have between 4 and 8 pounds of lead in them. Most of the flat panel monitors and TVs being recycled now contain less lead, but more mercury, from their mercury lamps. About 40% of the heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium, in landfills come from electronic equipment discards.
Discarded Electronics are Managed Badly
·         Most e-Waste still goes in the Landfill The EPA estimates that in 2011, the US generated nearly 3.4 million tonnes of e-Waste. But only about 25% of that was collected for recycling. The other 75% went to landfills and incinerators, despite the fact that hazardous chemicals in them can leach out of landfills into groundwater and strams, or that burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin.
·         Most Recyclers Don’t Recycle Most recycling firms take the low road, exporting instead of recycling. A large amount of e-Waste that is collected for recycling is shipped overseas for dismantling under horrific conditions, poisoning the people, land, air, and water in China, other Asian nations and to Ghana and Nigeria in western Africa.
·         Prison Recycling: High Tech Chain Gang Electronic recycling operations are increasingly active within America’s prison systems. Inmate labourers are not automatically afforded the same degree of worker health and safety protections as are people employed on the outside, nor are they paid comparable wages. Moreover, reliance on high tech chain ganga may frustrate development of the free market infrastructure necessary to safely manage our mountains of e-Waste.
Pollutants in e-Waste
Pollutants or toxins in e-Waste are typically concentrated in circuit boards, batteries, plastics and (Liquid Crystal Displays) (LCDs). Given below is a table showing the major pollutants occurring in waste electrical and electronic equipments.
Semiconductors, Diodes, Microwaves, LEDs Solar cells
Electronic tubes, Filler for plastic and rubber, Lubricant additives
Brominated Flame Proofing Agent
Casing, Circuit boards (plastic), Cables and PVC cables
Batteries, Pigments, Solder, Alloys, Circuit boards, Computer batteries, Monitor Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs)
Dyes/pigments, Switches
Conducted in cables, copper ribbons, coils, circuitry pigments
Lead rechargeable batteries, Solar, Transistors, Lithium batteries, PVC stabilisers, Lasers, LEDs, Thermoelectric elements, Circuit boards
Mobile telephones, Photographic equipment, Video equipment (batteries)
Components in copper machines and steam irons; Batteries in clocks and pocket calculators, switches, LCDs
Alloys, Batteries, Relays, Semiconductors, Pigments
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Transformers, Capacitors, Softening agents for paint, Glue, Plastic
Photoelectric cells, Pigments, Photocopiers, Fax machines, Silver capacitors, Switches (contacts), Batteries, Resistors
Steel, Brass, Alloys, Disposable and rechargeable batteries, Luminous substances

Impact of Hazardous Substances on Health
Listed in the bullet point below are the harmful elements in the compositions of electrical and electronic appliances that can be hazardous to health and environment.
§  Lead  A neurotoxin that affects the kidneys and the reproductive system. High quantities can be fatal. It affects mental development in children. Mechanical breaking of Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and removing solder from microchips release lead as powder and fumes.
§  Plastics  Found in circuit boards, cabinets and cables, they contain carcinogens. Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) give out carcinogenic brominated dioxins and furans. Dioxins can harm reproductive and immune systems. Burning PVC, a component of plastics, also produces dioxins. BFR can leach into landfills. Even the dust on computer cabinets contains BFR.
§  Chromium  Used to protect metal housings and plates in a computer from corrosion. Inhaling hexavalent chromium or chromium 6 can damage liver and kidneys and cause bronchial maladies including asthmatic bronchitis and lung cancer.
§  Mercury  Affects the central nervous system, kidneys and immune system. It impairs foetus growth and harms infants through mother’s milk. It is released while breaking and burning of circuit boards and switches. Mercury in water bodies can form methylated mercury through microbial activity. Methylated mercury is toxic and can enter the human food chain through aquatic.
§  Berullium  Found in switch boards and printed circuit boards. It is carcinogenic and causes lung diseases.
§  Cadmium  A carcinogen. Long-term exposure causes Itai-itai disease, which causes severe pain in the joints and spine. It affects the kidneys and softens bones. Cadmium is released into the environment as powder while crushing and milling of plastics, CRTs and circuit boards. Cadmium may be released with dust, entering surface water and groundwater.
§  Acid   Sulphuric and hydrochloric acids are used to separate metals from circuit boards. Fumes contain chlorine and sulphur dioxide, which cause respiratory problems. They are corrosive to the eye and skin

e-Waste Generation in India
All over the world, the quantity of electrical and electronic waste generated each year, especially computers and televisions, has assumed alarming proportions. Globally, about 20-50 million tonnes (MTs) of e-Wastes are disposed off each year, which accounts for 5% of all municipal solid waste. Although no definite official data exist on how much waste is generated in India or how much is disposed of, there are estimations based on independent studies conducted by the NGOs or government agencies.
According to the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s (CAG) report, over 7.2 MT of industrial hazardous waste, 4 lakh tonnes of electronic waste, 1.5 MT of plastic waste, 1.7 MT of medical waste, 48 MT of municipal waste are generated in the country annually.
There are 10 States that contribute to 70% of the total e-Waste generated in the country, while 65 cities generate more than 60% of the total e-Waste in India. Among the 10 largest e-Waste generating States, Maharashtra ranks first followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
Among the top ten cities generating e-Waste, Mumbai ranks first followed by Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat and Nagpur.
Rules in India
e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 including restrictions on usage of hazardous substances as per global best-practices and to prevent e-Waste dumping in the country is a subject which is being dealt by Ministry of Environment and Forest has for the first time notified e-waste management rules. The e-Waste (management and handling) Rules, 2011 would recognise the producers liability for recycling and reducing e-Waste in the country. The rules will come into effect from May 1, 2012.
Under the new rules, producers will have to make consumers aware about the hazardous components present in the product. Also, instructions for consumers for handling the equipment after its use along with the do’s and don’ts.
They also have to maintain records of e-Wastes generated by them and make such records available with State Pollution Control Boards or the Pollution Control Committees.
The State Pollution Control Board will be required to prepare and submit to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) an annual report  (based on the data received by consumers) with regard to implementation of these rules, by September 30 of every year. 

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