Navigation Links
E-waste trade ban won't end environmental threat
Date:3/21/2010

This release is available in Chinese.

TEMPE, Ariz. A proposal under debate in the U.S. Congress to ban the export of electronics waste would likely make a growing global environmental problem even worse, say authors of an article from the journal Environmental Science and Technology appearing online today.

The authors call into question conventional thinking that trade bans can prevent "backyard recycling" of electronics waste primarily old and obsolete computers in developing countries.

Primitive recycling processes used in these countries are dispersing materials and pollutants that are contaminating air, water and soil.

"Trade bans will become increasingly irrelevant in solving the problem,'' says Eric Williams, one of the authors of the article, which offers alternative ways to address the problem.

Williams is an assistant professor at Arizona State University with a joint appointment in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, a part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the School of Sustainability.

Electronics waste or e-waste is often exported from the United States and other developed nations to regions in China, India, Thailand and less developed countries where recycling is done in a crude fashion.

To recover copper from e-waste, for instance, wires are pulled out, piled up and burned to remove insulation covering the copper. This emits dioxins and other pollutants.

Toxic cyanide and acids used to remove gold from circuit boards of junked computers also are released into the environment.

With the number of junked computers expected to triple in the next 15 years, the authors say, the problem will grow much worse if an effective remedy is not put in place in the near future.

The main approach to solving the backyard recycling problem has been to ban trade in e-waste. Some countries have officially banned e-waste imports, but in some cases, as in China, such legislation has pushed the trade to the black market.

Congress is debating House Resolution 2595, which would ban the export of e-waste from the United States.

"The underlying assumption of this bill and other trade bans is that most e-waste comes from outside developing nations, and that stopping trade with developed countries would cut off the supply of e-waste and stop backyard recycling," Williams says.

But authors of the Environmental Science and Technology article forecast that the developing world will generate more waste computers than the developed countries as soon as 2017, and that by 2025 the developing world will generate twice the amount of waste computers as what will come from developed nations.

"Rapid economic and population growth in developing countries is driving an increase in computer use in these parts of the world that is outpacing the implementation of modern and environment-friendly recycling systems," Williams says. " So without action, backyard recycling is certain to increase."

But he and his co-authors say even a complete global ban on trade in e-waste cannot solve the problem because it covers only a diminishing percentage of the overall supply of e-waste. They argue for direct action to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of backyard recycling.

One proposal is to pay backyard recyclers not to recycle.

"The idea is to let people first repair and reuse equipment, and only intervene to remove materials and components that would be environmentally hazardous when e-waste would be recycled using crude methods," Williams says. "Such a system looks to be an inexpensive way to maintain jobs in recycling operations and maintain access to used computers while protecting the environment."


'/>"/>

Contact: Joe Kullman
joe.kullman@asu.edu
480-965-8122
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Markets of biodiversity and equity in trade: An illusion?
2. Global trade in tiger shrimp threatens environment
3. Stinger Systems To Offer Taser Trade-In Program
4. Fair trade
5. Stinger Systems To Offer Taser Trade-In Program
6. Carnegie Mellon Researcher says Chinas export trade impacts climate
7. MIT analysis shows how cap-and-trade plans can cut greenhouse emissions
8. Using water to understand human society, from the industrial revolution to global trade
9. Wildlife trade threatens public health and ecosystems
10. Elephant-size loopholes sustain Thai ivory trade
11. The first DNA barcodes of commonly traded bushmeat are published
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2017)... NEW YORK , March 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... Customer Marketing Cloud used by retailers such as ... in its platform — Product Recommendations and Replenishment. Using ... to give more personalized product and replenishment recommendations ... purchases, but also on predictions of customer intent ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... March 16, 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG ... ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution ... Used combined in one ... ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence company, today announces that ... uncover insights to support its reporting, help direct future campaigns, and ... youth charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics social listening and analytics ... of the topics and issues that are a priority for its ... "Until recently ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... 22, 2017  UBM and the Massachusetts Medical ... extended partnership and the third annual Massachusetts Medtech Week. ... 21 st Annual MassMEDIC Conference held in ... 3-4, 2017. MassMEDIC will feature ... President and CEO, Scott Whitaker , at ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... York , March 22, 2017 ... largely fragmented, states a research report by Transparency Market ... Pfizer Inc., Amgen Inc., and AbbVie Inc., accounted for ... 2015. The prominent players in this market are focusing ... their product portfolio, which is likely to lead to ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017   ... independent provider of product and service solutions ... that it has acquired EPL Archives, Inc., ... customers across the entire regulated product research, ... sample, document storage and ancillary services. EPL ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Maryland (PRWEB) , ... March 21, 2017 , ... ... Life Science Chief Executive Officer Forum on March 23-24 in San Diego. The ... medical device and diagnostic industries. , Benchworks Vice President Christian Meyer will also ...
Breaking Biology Technology: