Saturday, July 4, 2020 | ePaper

E-waste

Prevent The Pollution Must

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Mahmud Kamal Kowshik :
With the rapid change of technology, the demand for electronic goods is constantly increasing. Not a single day of our daily lives can go by without electronic products. On the other hand, as the use of electronic items is increasing, so it is increasing the electronic waste. Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is a variety of electrical and electronic equipment that becomes worthless to its users or no longer serves its original purpose. Replacing or disassembling the bulk of electronic products destroys the quality of their functionality, most notably refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, and "brown products" such as televisions, radios, computers, and cell phones.
E-waste is currently considered to be the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Globally, e-waste generates more than 5 percent of all municipal solid waste, and e-waste production is increasing in developing countries as the cost of electronic products decreases. E-waste generation is increasing rapidly, especially in developing countries. On the other hand, there is not enough planning and action for e-waste management. The use of digital goods and products is also increasing rapidly in our country. Bangladesh is now not only importing but also producing electronic products. The study found that the use of electronics products in Bangladesh has increased in the last 10 years as a result of the country's economic progress, more than in the last 30 years. Private research institutes in Bangladesh say that 10 million metric tons of electronic waste or e-waste is being generated in the country every year. By 2030, the e-waste generation rate will increase several times.
Electronic waste / e-waste contains many harmful elements for the natural environment including lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, lead oxide and other metallic and chemical elements. These metallic and chemical elements can penetrate dust or water. Moreover mixtures can enter the soil through wet and dry soils and cause contamination of both soil and water. Soils become toxic when lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) accumulate in landfills. E-waste contains many toxic substances and chemical compounds, which react in various ways with the sun and heat. This is increasing health risks and environmental pollution. The way to avoid this danger is safe management and recycling of e-waste. Without safe and proper management of e-waste recycling, not only the environment is being harmed, but also economically and commercially.
Most of the metallic and chemical elements that electronic waste contains are harmful to human health. Lead usually has adverse effects on the kidneys, central nervous system, blood circulation and brain development in children, cadmium is toxic to human health, causing damage to the kidneys, liver and nervous system. Mercury can damage to the brain, causing shortness of breath and skin disorders. Lithium can enter breast milk and harm a nursing baby, inhalation is responsible for pneumonia. Copper can cause abdominal pain, nausea, liver damage or Wilson's disease. The burning of plastics and PVC produces dioxins which cause reproductive and developmental problems. These metals and chemicals also play a special role in causing various diseases.
While developed countries can manage e-waste properly, developing countries still do not have a clear vision for it. Informal processing of e-waste in developing countries can lead to adverse effects on human health and environmental pollution. Bangladesh has not yet managed to bring e-waste under proper management which is necessary for the protection of environment and human health.
At present, e-waste in Bangladesh is not managed separately. All other wastes are dumped there. E-waste, on the other hand, usually stay on the streets for a long time as it does not spread the odor, but there is no initiative for management. Most of the waste in Bangladesh is stored in the land through landfill. However, the remaining waste releases various metallic and chemical elements into the soil. Some of these wastes are incinerated and pollute the air. Metals and chemicals that mix with soil and air can enter the water through various processes which degrade the general quality of water.
Landfills are primarily used for e-waste management. This is the most common method of e-waste disposal. This method involves digging the soil and making grooves to bury the e-waste. An impermeable layer is made of soil or plastic with a long basin for collecting e-waste and transferring it to the treatment plant. However, landfill is not an environmentally efficient process for e-waste management due to the release of toxins such as cadmium, lead and mercury into the soil and groundwater.
Acid sorbents, on the other hand, contain strong sulfuric, hydrochloric or nitric acids. Electrical circuits are soaked in these solutions which frees metals from electronic products. The recovered metal is used to manufacture other products. When hazardous acids are disposed in the water sources, it decreases quality.
The combustion method is a controlled method of e-waste removal and involves the combustion of electronic waste at high temperatures in specially designed incinerators. This e-waste disposal method is quite convenient because the amount of waste is greatly reduced and the energy obtained is also used individually. However, it is also not free from the disadvantages of emissions such as mercury and cadmium, the harmful gases in the environment.
The best way to manage e-waste is to recycle it properly. E-waste has many different components and needs to be looked at so that the components can be converted into new products. Special equipment is required for the processing and disposal of broken and dismembered products that can prevent contamination and ensure the safety and health of the workplace. Complete management must be performed in a controlled manner.
Recyclable materials can be used to create new products. Recycling and processing reduces the need for limited raw material mining from the earth. Not only does it reduce the need for mining but it also reduces pollution, because the reduction in raw materials from the mining process affects our environment. Recycling e-waste helps preserve our planet's precious natural resources. Moreover, e-waste can be refined to collect precious metals like copper or gold. Several recycling factories have already been set up in Bangladesh, but the required e-waste is not being collected through proper management.
It is most desirable that e-waste is a recyclable process where mobile phones, computers, laptops, printers can be reused with little modification or given to a second person as a second hand product. Old electronic equipment can be donated to various metal factories and also help the needy. Moreover, some recycling and recycling companies have better ways to sell old mobile phones or laptops.
Several websites are acting as intermediaries between recyclers and electronic users. This is a convenient method for users because they not only remove old mobile phones but also pay for them after resale. Nowadays, many e-waste recycling companies can bring the advantage of collecting obsolete electronic items from your homes. In addition, they can run a number of recycling programs for users, retailers and manufacturers to collect electronics.
Electronics products are an important part of our lives today but the e-waste that comes with them is harmful to the environment. So we need to make sure that our electronic devices are properly managed before disposing of them properly as the consequences of not doing so can be painful. Therefore, in Bangladesh, it is necessary to take initiative to create a specific place or infrastructure for the disposal or recycling of these old electronics products and e-waste. At the same time, awareness at all levels can facilitate the management of e-waste.

(Mahmud Kamal Kowshik is a student, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University).

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