There is no such thing as away. When you throw something away, it must go somewhere.
- Annie Leonard

Sunday, October 25, 2015

E-waste in Developed Countries


So I'm back again with the break down of another journal article! The reason why I chose this journal article is because of this amazingly summarized picture as above above. Can you see that ALL end points lead to "HUMAN HEALTH RISK". One way or another, even if e-waste is recycled, it would ultimately threaten us to a certain extent.

Moreover, this article is comprehensive as it gives an overview of the CURRENT situation and solutions of e-waste, especially in the developed countries. Through this article, we can actually see if actions speak more than words.

Current E-waste Management


Effectiveness of E-waste Management in Greece:


An e-waste management system that helps to take back and treat e-waste was started back in 2004, and it had helped to recycle up to 47 kilotons of e-waste in 2008 alone. HOWEVER, this system is current unregulated and not controlled, resulting unofficial collection of e-waste by street vendors, peddlers, etc. The daily exposure to these e-waste can cause serious health damages to these street vendors and peddlers, for they do not have the correct safety equipment to sort the e-waste. 

Effectiveness of E-waste Management in Switzerland:

The fact that it was the first country to have an official e-waste management system would mean that their system would be a mature and comprehensive one. In general, Switzerland has quite an effective management system, for consumers have greater convenience in recycling their e-waste products, and producers have producers have full responsibility of their e-waste products. As a result, only a mere 2% of e-waste products that cannot be recovered end up in landfills, significantly lowering the risk of human health.

Effectiveness of E-waste Management in Japan:

Well, their e-waste management system is only effective if there is a mutual social responsibility and discipline. This is because consumers pay to return their e-waste products....so unless you're rich enough I don't think many would care to pay money to recycle, but rather dispose them properly?

*All pictures in this post are found in the journal article, link can be found in reference.

Reference


GAIDAJIS, G., ANGELAKOGLOU, K., AKTSOGLOU, D. (2010) E-waste: Environmental Problems and Current Management. Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review. [Online]  3(1). p. 193-199. Available from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/49607064_E-waste_Environmental_Problems_and_Current_Management [Accessed: 25 October 2015]

Thursday, October 22, 2015

L.E.A.D

Hi everyone! Today I'm going to discuss about this journal article on e-waste that I came across! Specifically, this article elaborates about e-waste in developing countries, and I'd extract the more interesting/debatable issues/solutions that are raised!

 LEAD stands for Law Environment and Development. In this article, it summarises all my previous posts such as laws, transboundary pollution, effects and management, and causes. Lets move on to arguments that didn't occur to me when constructing my previous posts.

Causes

Why are developing countries greatly affected? 
Interestingly, the article pointed out that due to the unregulated laws of safety and environmental concerns, and the very very cheap cost of labor, industrialized countries would therefore ship to developing countries such as Cambodia. So, the main driver is ultimately due to the fact that laws are corrupted or completely ignored, and that these industrialized countries could fully exploit labor to maximize their profits. 
Another interesting fact that in the developing world, electronic wastes are also rising due to increasing demands of electronic equipment, hence adding on to the impacts of e-waste.

"NIMBY" syndrome (Not-In-My-Back-Yard)
E-waste are not popular in 'my backyard" so stricter laws and regulations are put in place to prevent them from popping out in "my backyard". This leads to the reduction of waste disposal facilities in industrialized countries and an increment of e-waste in developing countries instead...more like a Push-My-Backyard-to-You syndrome.

Effects

Second hand electronic equipment
As developing countries are poor, they would hence be unable to afford first hand electronic equipment. As a result, the demand for SECOND HAND electronic equipment would increase, since it is cheaper than new ones. Where would be the source? You've guessed it, developed and industrialized countries of course. These second hand electronics have 1) shorter lifespan and 2) worsens domestic electronic waste generation, which ultimately adds up to e-waste dumps
Cunningly, the imports received from other countries are "unstable, [and] beyond repair'....doesn't that sound like these countries are indirectly shipping their e-waste to developing countries...


Solutions

Human Rights
The right to be informed, and the right to live in a safe and clean environment. Through arguing about these rights, developing countries could strive for just laws to clean up the environment. By informing the public, it encourages participation and decision making, helping to put stricter laws in place.

Conventions
The Basel Convention (1989)
What if the Basel Convention if the U.S have not rectified it till date?
Other conventions include the Bamako Convention (1991) (where imports of hazardous e-waste are banned in Africa) and the Waigani Convention (2001) (similar but weaker than Bamako Convention and covers South Pacific region)

In conclusion, this article is generally easy to understand, and it give a comprehensive overview of the cause, effects and management of e-waste in developing countries. It's really a good read. To solve the e-waste problem, does not involve an individual country itself, but the entire world.

Reference


DEJO, O. (2012) Menace of E-Wastes in Developing Countries: An Agenda for Legal and Policy Responses [Online] Law, Environment and Development Journal 8/1, p. 59. Available from: http://www.lead-journal.org/content/12059.pdf [Accessed: 22 October 2015]

Sunday, October 18, 2015

E-waste and Sports.

You may be wondering how in the world are these two mutually exclusive topics related to each other. Me too, so i went to search and found some linkages between them.... These precious articles/news can be generally split into categories: Reusing  and recycling. In light of this, I'm positive that such incidents are just the start of the possible links between e-waste and sports; hopefully similar incidents would appear in future. As a sportswoman myself, I'm quite impressed with the initiatives of e-recycling by sports teams, (Y)!

Reuse




WHAT ARE THOSEEEE! Yes they are medals, and they are from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Apart from their unusual shape - undulating rather than flat, they have very unique elements in them - they contain e-waste materials. Supplied by Teck Resources Ltd, and manufactured by  Royal Canadian Mint, each of the 1014 medals contain precious metals that were extracted from 6.8 metric tonnes of circuit boards! Specifically, these precious metals from e-waste materials are: Gold – 1.52 %, Silver – 0.122 p% and Copper – 1.11 %. For the first time in Olympic history, medals contained e-waste materials. 

This innovative usage of e-waste not only promotes effective resource utilization of precious metals, it also reduces the cost of producing these medals since fewer of these precious metals are bought! 

Recycling


Recently, sports teams have been cooperating with e-waste recycling companies for e-waste recycling events! 

1. Greater Cincinnati, the USA
Earlier this year in May, the Reds team partnered with Players for the Planet on an e-waste recycling collection drive. The first 200 cars get two free tickets to a Reds game! This has been ongoing for 6 years, and is one of the biggest collection drive in the region. And they even appeared in the news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7eoiuZDMtg .

2. Temecula, California, the USA
In 2014, Temecula Valley High School (TVHS) Football Boosters partnered with Temecula Recycling, also for an e-recycling drive. 

These events help to raise awareness of the current e-waste situation and also help these teams gain support and recognition from public! Through cultivating young minds with these e-recycling drives, the younger generation would gain deeper understanding of e-waste and hopefully prompt for possible solutions of e-waste in future.

References


JACE S.G. (2010). Olympic Medals Reuse E-Waste: Green is the new Gold for 2010. Triplepundit. [Online] 12 February 2010. Available from: http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/olympic-medals-e-waste-green-is-the-new-gold-for-2010-vancouver-olympics/ [Accessed: 18 October 2015]

MARK H. (2015) Players for the Planet e-waste recycling events with the Reds are coming up. Wvxu. [Online] 13 May 2015. Available from: http://wvxu.org/post/players-planet-e-waste-recycling-events-reds-are-coming#stream/0 [Accessed: 18 October 2015]

SUSAN B. (2014) TVHS Football Boosters EWaste Recycling Event. Patch. [Online] 9 April 2014. Available from: http://patch.com/california/temecula/tvhs-football-boosters-ewaste-recycling-event  [Accessed: 18 October 2015]

Sunday, October 11, 2015

E-Art

Well as the title suggest, designers are all trying means and ways to recycle e-waste, and this is one of the possible solutions! E-waste can also be a form of art, and some of them are really innovative!

Take a look at some of the masterpieces that i'd gathered!

Coffee Table


 WOW can you imagine putting this in the middle of your house! Using printed circuit boards and other electronic components, Electri-Cities is able to come out with furniture! More in the video below!



Subway Map

Created by Harry Beck, this intricate piece of artwork is really stunning. The picture above shows the London Underground Tube map.

Nike Shoes

It's real! You can really wear them! Created by Gabriel Dishaw, I bet some of you are interested in getting a pair yourselves! I mean, it's so funky, so why not? Not only are you starting a new trend, you're also saving the environment!

Jewellery


Using precious metals collected from e-waste, Maria Hanson turns them into jewelries such as rings and necklaces! This innovative idea certainly gave electronics a second life in a market, and also helps to reduce some e-waste! More in the video below if you want to find our how to purchase them!


As e-waste continues to increase through the years, more and more innovative ways of re-using ewaste are emerging too. Hopefully, as people come to realise the significance of the ewaste problem, they would be shifting their demands to these innovative alternatives!

References

ERICA, H. (2012) 8 Projects Turning Deadly E-waste Into Beautiful, Non-deadly Works Of Art. [Online] Available from: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/8-projects-turning-deadly-e-waste-into-beautiful-non-deadly-works-of-art [Accessed: 11/10/2015]

BETTER WORLD SOLUTIONS (n.d.) E-Waste as Art. [Online] Available from: http://www.betterworldsolutions.eu/e-waste-as-art/ [Accessed: 11/10/2015]

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Laws? LAWL. Laws.

Hey hey hey I'm back!

This time its all about laws! Specifically, we'll be talking about laws put in place to settle the growing e-waste problems. Andddd are these laws really effective? Or are they just for show?  Well, read on to find out more! :)

History

Lets go all the way back to 1994! Ever heard of the 1994 Basel Convention? No? Me neither. HAHA. Anyways it's an agreement that prevents e-waste from being shipped to developing nations. And as always, the USA refused to sign it.......so there are loopholes for businesses to continue shipping those hazardous e-waste abroad! So can you imagine the tremendous impacts of e-waste in developing nations such as China...

Other than that, although measurements are in place to stop illegal trading in Latin America and the Caribbean, these legislation are unable to stop illegal trading... :(

The U.S.

Very very sadly, there are currently NO national laws in place to tackle discarded e-waste (but there are state laws). There's no requirement for companies to take back and recycle their products, no laws preventing the export of e-waste, no laws to ban the usage of extremely toxic materials. Nothing. None. Kosong. Zero. 零. It's really very disappointing to see that the U.S., being the world leader in this century, is not setting a good role model for other countries. Despite having one of the most highly toxic waste sites (Silicon Valley) in the world, they do not have equally strict legislation to mitigate the problem. The state laws passed by 25 states in the U.S. only require citizens to pay extra to buy products (I don't think money is a good deterrent for an affluent country such as the U.S. thou).

On the Bright Side

All hope is not lost. Thankfully, other developed countries are doing their part to reduce e-waste! Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive (2012) by the European Union is one such initiative. Manufacturers are required to collect back their products for free so as to recycle them or make them less toxic.

The U.S again

What is currently in place: Product take-back (mentioned in my previous post) and Advanced Recovery Fee (ARF). In AFR, part of the cost of recycling e-waste is transferred from producers to consumers. ARF is currently only passed in California, but have been quite successful in reusing around 21 million kilograms of e-waste. Hopefully ARF can be expanded into other states or countries as well,

References

SUSTAINABLE ELECTRONICS INITIATIVE (n.d.). International Legislation & Policy. [Online] Available from: http://www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu/policy/international.cfm#europe [Accessed:  03 October 2015]

DIANE, S. (2010). Toxic Outsourcing. Metroactive.[Online] Available from: http://www.metroactive.com/metro/03.21.07/e-waste-0712.html [Accessed:  03 October 2015]

MARIA, T. (2008). How do e-waste recycling laws work? HowStuffWorks.com. [Online] 11 December 2008.  Available from: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/e-waste-recycling-law.htm [Accessed:  03 October 2015]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mini Update!

Let's rejoice!
Recently (18 Sept), NEA said that there are going conduct studies on e-waste! (FINALLY) Published in The Straits Times, through the study of collection and management of e-waste in Singapore and amidst the growing trend of technology, NEA is proposing on the possibility of a recycling and collecting system on e-waste!

Well, finally! Singapore is doing something about e-waste on a large scale, as opposed to the past where private companies initiate their e-waste recycling program. The government is finally seeing the problem and intervening. Keep up the good work!! Hopefully this operation would be a success and a more convenient way of recycling e-waste would be proposed!

Link here for more information!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Silicon Valley

Settled in California, U.S.A., Silicon Valley is the epicenter of technological hubs. Notoriously, it has of of the highest concentration of toxic-waste sites in the country - over 400 of them, making it one of the most poisonous cities. This week, we'll look more into this mini city in the U.S., and also the implications of e-waste.

First of, lets start of with the map of Silicon Valley!


OMG JUST LOOK AT THE NUMBER OF TECH COMPANIES CONCENTRATED HERE. I'm actually very shocked; I didn't expect that much technological companies... Anyways, this just concludes one thing: There's going to be a whole lot of effects (and solutions) in here. Below are the more important ones.

Exportation 

Silicon Valley ships up to 9 million kilograms of e-waste, to developing countries, and even to their own neighboring states like Arizona. And that's just exports alone!

In the country itself, electronic wastes are send to prisons and treated carelessly by prisoners as they are not provided with the proper tools for dismantling of e-waste. This leads to health hazards which is my next point.

Health Hazards

In 2006, residents suffered from respiratory problem after Romic, a tech company in Silicon Valley, polluted the air forming a chemical cloud. Prisoners also suffered from the health hazard when dismantling e-waste.

A study by IBM, also revealed that workers working here had 40% more miscarriages and are more likely to die from cancer.

Cleanup

Although there are efforts made to cleanup the city, but...

Because of the lack of legislation laws, and simply because the toxic waste in water and soil are just too concentrated, it's super complicated to clean up the city. Treating polluted water here takes up to 700 YEARS for it to be drinkable... 

Cleaning up is not working at all; pollution statistics have never fell but remained constant regardless the effort put into it. Next, the clean up gives out even more carbon dioxide, which is unsustainable. So it's really unfeasible.


Community Efforts

People Acting in Community Together (PACT): Educates people about e-waste, raising awareness about the consequences through meetings

Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF): Researches, discusses, initiates and advocates the Silicon Valley community.

Solar Company Scorecard

This is interesting! A project by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), it's literally a scorecard that gives points in terms of how environmentally friendly you are. The purpose of this scorecard is to encourage technological companies to take full charge of their own production, and reduce pollution through regular monitoring and innovation of technology. 

Below is a quick summary of the results in 2014! 


Anyways, that's all! Hope I had educated you more on Silicon Valley!
See you next week as I venture more into the laws of e-waste!

References

SUSANNE, R., MATT, D. and GUARDIAN (2014). Cleanup of Silicon Valley Superfund site takes environmental toll. [Online] Available from: https://www.revealnews.org/article/cleanup-of-silicon-valley-superfund-site-takes-environmental-toll-2/ [Accessed from: 19 September 2015]

JACOB, S, and NEW AMERICAN MEDIA (2010). Push to Regulate E-Waste in Silicon Valley. [Online] Available from: https://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/pulse-of-the-bay/push-regulate-e-waste-silicon-valley/ [Accessed from: 19 September 2015]

MARIE C. BACA (2010). Toxic-Waste Sites Haunt Silicon Valley. [Online] Available from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704111704575355212354653420 [Accessed from: 19 September 2015]