Bangladesh indicates a rapid economic growth with emerging market for consumers of electric, electronic gadgets, home appliances. These demands have created a circumstance of increasing amounts of locally produced electronics products and increasing demand for re-using these products. Equipment is largely refurbished and recycled in semiformal and informal sectors. Re- use or recycling or of equipments and as well as dumping are creating risk these days. These electronic wastes might can cause environmental and health hazards. At present, there are lack of awareness and adequate information gap on e-waste hazards in Bangladesh.
What is E-waste?
"Electronic waste( E-waste)" may be defined as all secondary electronic goods including computers, entertainment device electronics, phone sets / mobile phones, and other items such as television sets and refrigerators, whether sold, donated, or discarded by their original owners. E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the growing segments of our nation's waste stream.
E-waste containing products
Heavy metals & toxic substance release from e-waste
Bangladesh still lacks a proper mechanism for the safe disposal of electrical waste (e-waste), seven years after the government drafted regulations to prevent ever increasing quantities of hazardous materials from being sent to landfill.
Common sources of e-waste include televisions, air conditioners, computers, mobile phones, IT equipment, CFL bulbs, fridges, and electric fans.
Such items contain precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, iron, and some other heavy metals, but they can also contain mercury and lead - two of the most hazardous metals to human health.
According to a recent study by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), Bangladesh produces around 400,000 metric tons of this e-waste each year.
The study - titled “Assessment of Generation of e-Waste, its Impacts on the Environment and Resource Recovery Potential in Bangladesh” - found the production of e-waste has been rising at the alarming rate of 20% per year and will reach 462,000 tons per year by 2035, if the current trend continues.
The study also showed that only 3% of the total generated waste is being sent for recycling.
The most common disposal method is by burning it in a pit under the open sky, but as this releases toxic substances into the ecosystem and prevents the extraction of any valuable metals from the waste material, stakeholders say a proper system is long overdue.
In every year Bangladesh generatedroughlyaround 400,000 metric tons of e-waste.But without knowing the harmful effect of the e-waste these has dumped in to the open land-fills,farming land and in the open sources of water bodies.
- Health impact: Cancer, Asthma, Nerves breakdown,Hearing problem,Visual problem, Infant-mortality, disable baby birth.
- Environmental impact: Air pollution, Water pollution, Land pollution and life threat for wildlife
- In Bangladesh every year more than 15% child worker died during and after effect of e- waste recycling and more than 83% are exposed by toxics substances and become sick and live with long term illness. According to ESDOs recent study and available information,approximately (50,000) fifty thousand children’s are involved in the non- formale-waste collection and recycling process,amongst them about 40% are involved in ship breaking yards.
- E-waste generated from ship breaking yards alone about 2.5 million metric tons of toxics e-waste in ayear.
- Bangladesh has generated 10,504 metric tons of toxics e-waste by cell phone sets within last 21 years.
- Every year around 296302 TV sets become scrape and generated 0.17 million metric tons of e-waste.
E-waste status in Bangladesh
When the earlier mentioned heavy metals and trash electronic items are dismantled without following effective controls in place, the hazardous compounds get released which affects human health and the environment adversely. Components which are not bio0degradable or cannot be recycled are dumped or burned in open those release toxic substance into the environment.
More than 30 millions of children, women and non-formal workers are exposed by heavy metals lead,mercury,cadmium,zinc and chromium, PCB,Dioxin and furan by these e-wastes.
E-waste generated in Bangladesh
No inventory has been made to assess the extent of E-waste problem in Bangladesh.Thegood bellowgeneratesE-wasteinBangladesh;
- Total number of PCs,TVs and Refrigerators in the year 2006 was 600,000,1,252,000 and 2,200,000.
- The total number of TV sets users is roughly 10.3 million at the end of the year 2008. Every year around 59,85,000 TV sets become scrape and generated 88,357.14 metric tons of e-waste.
- The total number of mobile phone active subscribers in Bangladesh was 58.36 million at the end of May 2010.
- Each year more than 2.8 million tons of electronic waste(it includes e-waste from‘ship breaking‘yard)generated in Bangladesh.
- E-waste generated from ship breaking yards about 2.5 million metric tons in a year.
- POPs: from ship breaking sites,PCB,Dioxin,Furan
- 10,504 metric tons of toxice-waste by cell phone sets with in last 21years.
- With in the last 10years IT sector generated 35,000 metric tons of e-waste in Bangladesh
- Our country's mobile phone penetration touched a recordmark. Still a big market is untapped. We are creating a noticeable mobile phone density compared to those countries whose economic condition is better off than ours.We can easily guess on the basis of the number of subscribers that there are more than three core mobile phone sets in our country. Average longevity of a set is about one year. So every year we are dumping over one core mobile phone sets. Expectation of the mobile phone companies is to make five core subscribers before the end of this decade.Thus very soon we will dump two and half core mobile phones annually.
E- waste concentration areas
In Dhaka the concentration or highest disposal /storage of E-waster are in Islampur, Kamrangirchar, Gingira, Mirpur (11, 12) and Mohammadpur etc.
Problems Surrounding E-waste
Growing sources of e-waste present a number of considerable problems:
Increase The Need to Mine Finite Resources Cellphones, computers, and other technological products contain a number of valuable materials that must be mined. Rare earths, gold, palladium, copper, and more all reside within our cell phones, TVs, and more.
These valuable materials are acquired through intensive mining operations. The recycling of such materials from our old gadgets would allow us to reuse these valuable materials, ultimately requiring less mining and conserving our finite resources.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling of one million cell phones yields 35,000 lbs. of copper, 772 lbs. of silver, 75 lbs. of gold, and 33 lbs. of palladium. DoSomething.org claims that over $60 million in gold and silver in the form of phones is dumped by Americans annually.
Encourages Hazardous Working Conditions
Despite efforts to thwart such practices, many of our outdated electronics end up in developing nations, where legislation around e-waste is lax or even non-existent. Here, workers sort through the products by hand or use crude processing methods to recover the desired components – a highly toxic endeavor.
A recent study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), in which GPS trackers were put on items of e-waste and then donated or brought to recycling centers, found that 40% of the items delivered to US recyclers were exported, 93% of which went to developing countries.
The toxic components in e-waste not only pose risks to workers in developing nations, but they also pose risks to the environment; where e-waste is either improperly handled or disposed of, there is risk of soil and groundwater contamination.
Mercury, lead, cadmium, and other components have the potential to seep into soil and groundwater, contaminating these valuable resources.
Recycling and disposal of E-waste:
The process of recycling in Bangladesh is very injurious and hazardous; there is no proper waste management guideline or regulation. Reuse of e-equipment is a common practice in Bangladesh. E-equipment recycling and dismantling is a growing business. No e-waste dismantling facility informal sector. All there cycling is being carried out by the informal sector. 120,000 urban poor from the informal sector are involved in the recycling trade chain of Dhaka city. 15% of the total generated waste in Dhaka(mainly inorganic)which amounts 475 tones are recycled daily.With in this amount of waste only 20 to 35% recycled and rest laid into landfills,rivers,ponds,drains,lake,cannels and open spaces.
Impacts due to the E-waste hazard:
Disposal of these E-wastes without appropriate measures can cause environmental pollution. Lack of awareness or lack of cautionary information for handling or re-using of these expiry products can leave people expose to health hazards. E-waste is threatening the soil contents and causing landless productive to produce crops.
Problems begin if this E-waste dumped in landfill sites or if they are dumped illegally.Either the law is not in place or not enforcedtotakeproperdisposalmeasuresaswellasthelackof systemorinstitutionstomonitorthedumpingofelectronicgoods.Thecountryisblessedby manyrivers,rainwaterisreachingtheunderground.Ifthesubstancesdumpedareseepinginto thesoiltheaquiferofwatercanbecontaminatedwithlethalchemicals.
- BangladeshadopteditsNationalEnvironmentPolicyintheyearof1992highlightingthe regulatingallactivitiesthatpolluteanddestroytheenvironment.
- No specific law or ordinance for e-waste management and recycling. But wehave BangladeshEnvironmentConservationAct,1995,TheEnvironmentalCourtAct,2000, andTheEnvironmentalConservationRules,1997.
- TheEnvironmentconservationact,1995authorizetheDirectorGeneraltoundertake any activity necessary to conserve and enhance the quality of environment andto control,preventandmitigatepollution.
- MedicalWasteManagementRules,2008addressesthewastemanagementissuesfor themedicalsectorincludingE-waste.
- GovernmentalreadyprepareddraftNational3R(ReduceReuseandRecycle)Strategy andinthatdrafte-wasteissueswereaddressed.
- HazardousWasteManagementRulesisunderpreparationandstilltimetoincorporate E-wastemanagementissuesforpropermanagementofE-wasteamongothers.
- TheDepartmentofEnvironmentprepareddraftsolidwastemanagementruleswhichis nowinconsultationstageandstilltimetoincludeE-wastemanagementissuesinthat rule.
- BangladeshisasignatorytoBaselconventionprohibitingtrans-boundarymovementto hazardouswaste.
- TheHighCourtofBangladeshhasdirectedtheDepartmentofEnvironmenttoensure thatallship-breakingyardsoperatingwithoutenvironmentalclearanceshutdown theiroperations.ThecourtgaverulinginMarch’90.
- TheHighCourtalsodirectedthegovernmenttoensurethatnoshipwithhazardous wastesenterthecountrywithoutbeingpre-cleanedatsourceoroutsidetheterritoryof Bangladesh.
- Thecourtobservedthatnoneofministrieshadco-operatedtoensureconformitytothe environmentallaws.Theordersaidthegovernmenthadtoensurethatshipswereonly brokenafterguaranteeingsafeworkingconditionsforthelaborersandhavinginplace appropriatedisposalarrangementforhazardouswastesandprotectionofenvironment.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
It’s easy to see why e-waste is quickly becoming a topic of discussion around sustainability. More than ever, a solution to these growing mountains of e-waste is needed. Many have pinpointed improved legislation, advancement in recycling technologies, increased education, and more convenient recycling programs for resolving the electronic waste crisis. In global market some companies have already jumped on the bandwagon toward finding improved recycling methods.
The Washington-based company behind Redbox and Coinstar has developed a line of ecoATM kiosks, where consumers can conveniently sell their old phones for cash on the spot where they already shop. The company then refurbishes what it can, and ensures the rest is recycled in a sustainable way. It can me an example for us to follow.
Many organizations have been formed to promote increased awareness and advocate for the changes needed to solve the issues surrounding e-waste. For example, the US EPA collaborates with the United Nations University – Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative (StEP), to address e-waste on a global level. Similarly, the International E-Waste Management Network (IEMN) brings together officials from all over the world to collaborate on e-waste.
FEECO has worked with companies to recover precious metals from electronics such as circuit boards and batteries through high temperature thermal processing in rotary kilns.
But in our country noeffectivestepstostopgeneratinge-wasteorstrictdisposalofthissludge till today.Following actionscanbetakenaspartofwayforward:
- Awareness raising and development of communication material (poster, leaflets, brochure, TVspot).
Sources:HumanDevelopmentReport2006,UNDP,WorldHealthOrganization,UNEP,ESDObaselinesurvey, The daily star
ICT Minister for business plan on e-waste management
Posts Telecommunications and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar underscored the need of a business plan so that electronic waste can be recycled properly.
“E-waste cannot be reduced day by day as electronic and digital use will increase more. New technology should be materialized instead of the old one,” he said.
Jabbar sat with the officials of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and telecom reporters’ association TRNB, to hold discussion on e-waste management at a city hotel Saturday (Feb 2).
The minister stressed for a business plan so that the electronic wastes can be collected in an automatic system.
He called on the people associated with waste recycling to make specific lists of waste and prices.
A policy on e-waste management has been forwarded to the law ministry from the environment ministry, the minister informed the discussants.
“It will be issued after vetting,” said Department of Environment Director General Dr Sultan Mahmud.