by September 3, 2009 0 comments

E lectronic equipment which become obsolete due to advancement in technology,
changes in fashion or nearing the end of their useful life give birth to
something called e-Waste. Today, the number of the machines and devices that are
being thrown out is increasing tremendously thus affecting our environment with
poisonous radiations from. Thus, there is a growing realisation that the issue
may take dangerous shape over the next few years if it continues to be so.

Why manage
e-Waste is hazardous. It contains several toxic substances like Lead,
Cadmium, Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium, Plastics (including PVC), brominated
flame retardants, Barium, Beryllium and Arsenic. All of these elements are toxic
and some are radioactive in nature, which make them more dangerous for us.
e-Wastes that are landfilled produces contaminated leachate which subsequently
pollute the groundwater. Acids obtained from melting computer chips, if disposed
on the ground causes acidification of soil.

Due to the lack of proper mechanisms and standards for disposal, these
substance often end their lives in the waste stream which is meant either for
recycling or for land fillings. e-Wastes are a matter of concern in India, as
the methods of e-Waste disposal are very rudimentary.

What do we do
The second question that might prick you is what do organizations do to get
rid of the e-Wastes that they generate on yearly basis? Well, rather than just
dumping them in a store room or throwing them in a wasteland, organizations sell
them to e-Waste management and recycling companies. And this process, if not
followed might create a situation that most of the earth will be covered with
e-Waste. There are couple of companies who provide solutions for this such as,
Attero Recycling -a Noida based company. The company does complete processing of
e-Waste with zero landfill. They have recently established a state-of-the art
e-Waste recycling facility in Roorkee which is spread over an area of more than
1,00,000 sq ft. This processes WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)
such as, used computers, cell phones, network gear and TV in an environment
friendly manner with very high recycling efficiency. There are couple of others
in the market to offer the same.

How to reduce e-Waste
The best way is to downsize waste that is being generated by the
organization or even by an individual. For example, usage of bio-degradable
devices would surely reduce the number. But there aren’t many such available in
the market today. Hence, technology must be taken to a level where
bio-degradable device can be manufactured easily and in a very large scale.

In case of an individual, one can opt for eco-friendly phones such as MOTO
W233 Renew which is the world’s first mobile phone made of plastics comprised of
recycled water bottles. When designing the packaging, Motorola was able to
reduce its size by 22 percent, and the box and all of the materials inside are
printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. In addition, a postage-paid
recycling envelope in box makes it easy to return your previous mobile phone for
recycling at no cost. Sony Ericsson GreenHeart (a concept phone) includes
features such as bio-plastic housings, recycled plastic keypads, zero charger
with 3.5mW standby power, HTML based e-manuals, a game style educational
application ‘Ecomate’ and environmentally conscious packaging. By reducing and
recycling these hazardous material-containing products, consumers also can help
contribute to the reduction of the increasingly widespread problem. e-Waste
management should begin at the point of generation. Besides, Governments should
also set up regulatory agencies to curb the effects of the same.

Initiatives by organizations
There are organizations who have taken initiatives to recycle e-Waste. Some
rganizations are asking their consumers to return obsolete and useless gadgets
back to them, so that they can not only dump, but also also manage the waste.
Efforts in this regard from HCL involve e-Waste management, internal waste
programming, initiative on RoHS compliance, and customer awareness programs. It
has also set up its e-Waste helpdesk to support computer owners with solution of
any problem faced during disposal. Lenovo also encourages its customers to reuse
or recycle products at the end of their useful lives by offering consumers and
commercial clients a range of recycling options for end of life products,
batteries and product packaging worldwide. Lenovo has an option on its website
for recycling Lenovo and IBM branded PCs. Customers can return back their
obsolete or useless PCs or components to Lenovo through a third-party vendor,
which comprises this service fee of cost to Lenovo’s customers. The products are
picked up from customers’ premises itself. Dell also is not behind the league
with their e-Waste initiatives. They provide consumers with free and convenient
product recovery options directly to consumers to facilitate responsible product
retirement. They get in touch with their consumers through their ReGeneration
program such as Direct2Dell, IdeaStorm and Dell Earth.

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