backtop


Print 35 comment(s) - last by rcc.. on Dec 1 at 12:58 PM

Obsolete and non-functioning consumer waste finds its way to third world countries

The United Nations held a conference this week called the 8th Conference of the Parties where UN members discussed primarily issues affecting the environment. The main topic was what they called "e-waste."

A byproduct of technology that was once cutting edge, e-waste is basically old technology that has become obsolete and consumers no longer want them. Old televisions, computers, phones and other electronics are getting moved overseas, to third world countries and being "dumped" there for people to use. While the concept of recycling is definitely the idea, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, expressed a high degree of concern over e-waste.

During his speech to UN members, Steiner noted "If these were good quality, second hand, pieces of equipment this would perhaps be a positive trade of importance for development." Most people would consider this a fairly positive bit up to this point. Steiner then expressed concerns that most products being shipped over either have malfunctions or are completely non-functioning. "But local experts estimate that between a quarter to 75 per cent of these items including old TVs, CPUs and phones are defunct—in other words E-waste, in other words long distance dumping from developed country consumers and companies to an African rubbish tip or landfill," continued Steiner.

The UN meeting suggests that manufacturers begin looking at ways to truly recycle used and non-functional electronic equipment. Nokia for example, announced recyclable phones earlier this year. The phones would be taken back to a break-down facility where a specific degree of heat would cause the phone to instantly break apart into individual components. Product designs like this easily help manufacturers salvage old products and refurbish them for uses elsewhere. Developing countries where technology is slow moving can benefit from recycling schemes such as Nokia's.

Near the end of his speech, Steiner pointed out that China was a country leading the world in terms of a "circular economy," where nothing was wasted. A circular economy is a concept where one product is a raw material for another product. And a product could be anything from a hand-held instrument to heat for warming homes.

According to UNEP study, "Some progress in the areas of electronics is being made and I congratulate the Basel Secretariat and responsible members of industry for the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative. There is a lot that can be done like take back schemes, recycling projects and certification of exports showing them as functioning equipment."

Whatever the case may be, e-waste has definitely grown to international proportions and the concern is very real. It's a reality that landfills are piling up with waste and more electronic consumer products are being manufactured in mass quantities daily. At the same time, massive amount of products are being thrown away by consumer -- most of which are still usable.

It appears as though the world has come along way since the introduction of the "three R's" concept.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Where do they find these guys.
By rcc on 11/30/2006 2:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
"local experts estimate.... between a quarter and 75 percent..."

Ok, that's mixing numbers which is a no no, but that's nitpicking. : )

However, between 25 and 75 percent is not an estimate, it's a wild ass guess (WAG). Pardon my cynicism, but if you are an expert you should be able to get a bit closer than that.

IMNSHO, of course.




By marvdmartian on 11/30/2006 2:48:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I read that too. Between 25 (a quarter) and 75 percent.......geez, could you narrow it down a little bit??


RE: Where do they find these guys.
By number999 on 11/30/2006 3:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
between a quarter and 75 percent.
This is a report from a number of different countries. Do they have figures for specific countries - most likely but the way i read it, country 1 got lucky and only 25% was junk country n got unlucky and ended up with 75% junk in their donations hence the range. It gives a better idea than just averaging it out in a homogeneous fashion. The range just shows that some are really bad while others are just fairly bad.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

Related Articles
Nokia Self Destruct Phone
July 29, 2006, 3:41 PM













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki