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E-waste in Bangladesh


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E-waste generation in Bangladesh

In recent years, as a result of increasing access to technology and the rapid growth of the Bangladesh economy, a market has emerged for computers, consumer electrics and home appliances. This emerging market has seen an increase in the amount of local consumer electronics products in the market and as a result and increase in the level of equipment that is being disposed of. In Bangladesh, this electronic waste is reused, broken down for parts or thrown out completely. Currently this informal practice is not being carried out safely and has become a danger to human health and the surrounding environment. At present there is a lack of awareness about the issue in the general population, in the Government and also in private companies.

“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 situation

Every year Bangladesh generates roughly 2.7 million metric tons of e-waste. This electronic waste is disposed without understanding the harmful effects of dumping this waste in to open landfills, farming land and open bodies of water.

  • Health impacts: Cancer, Asthma, Nerves breakdown, Hearing problem, Visual problem, Infant-mortality, disable baby birth.
  • Environmental impacts: Air pollution, Water pollution, Land pollution and life threat for wildlife.
  • In Bangladesh every year more than 15% of child workers die as a result of e-waste recycling and more than 83% are exposed by toxics substances and become sick and are forced to live with long term illness.

 

Volume of e-waste generated by computer

In Bangladesh computers were introduced to the general population in the early 1980s. The computer users of that time were almost exclusively urban dwellers. If we assume the lifespan of the average computer is 3 to 5 years, then we can estimate that between 1980 and 1990 around 50% of computers purchased (estimate) can be counted as disposed items of ‘e-waste’. From this figure, we can assume that up to 1990 the volume of e-waste generated from PCs and laptops was around 100,309 items.

In 2000 the growth rate of urban population of Bangladesh was 27% and as a result, computer usage and disposal rates had increased. The volume of computers relegated to e-waste was 399,010. Consequently, in 2010 the volume of e-waste of computers is estimated to be around 1,604,368 units. These figures have been calculated based on the growth rate of the urban population and computer users per person per year. So, the total volume of e-waste from computers after 1980 up to current time is 2,103,687 units in total and e-waste is 0.0252 million metric tons (@ of 1 set = 12 kg).

 

Volume of e-waste generated by mobile phones

In Bangladesh, mobile phones were first introduced in 1989. There are six mobile providers in Bangladesh. Citycell, Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Teletalk (govt.) and Airtel telecom. From 1990 to 2009 the combined subscribers of the six companies totaled 47,220,000.  We can presume an increase of 10% in users till June 2010, therefore bringing the current total to approximately 51,942,000. It has estimated that from 2000 to till June 2010 the volume of e-waste from mobile phones is around 24,932,160 units and e-waste is 6233.04 metric tons (@ of 1 unit = 250 g)

 

Volume of E-waste by CFL and mercury bulb

According to the census of 2001 the number of household in municipalities was 1,934,000. In the last 10 years, each household used at least 3 mercury bulbs. So in last 10 years the volume of e-waste generated from CFL and Mercury bulbs is 96,485,694.

 

Volume of E-waste by Thermometers

In Bangladesh, the thermometer is a widely used piece of medical equipment in most households. This is especially true in urban areas, where it is expected that each household would purchase one thermometer per year.

Since 1971 to 2010 (June) urban households had 61,02,95,237. Since the longevity of a thermometer is 1 year, so from 1971 to 2010 about 61,02,95,237 pieces thermometers have already been rejected after using. So, the volumes of E-wastes are 8513.59 metric tons.

Sources of e-waste

Estimated e-waste

Ship Breaking Yards 2.5 million metric ton/yr (2500000 metric ton/yr)
Television Sets 0.182 million metric ton/yr (181896 metric ton/yr)
Computers 0.0084 million metric ton/yr (25244.24 metric ton/30yrs)
Mobile Phones 0.0006 million metric ton/yr (6233.04  metric ton/10yrs)
CFL Bulbs 0.0001 million metric ton/yr (566.90 metric ton/6yrs)
Mercury Bulbs 0.0018 million metric ton/yr (1861.32 metric ton/10yrs)
Thermometers 0.0002 million metric ton/yr (8513.59 metric ton/50yrs)
Other Medical & Dental Waste 0.009 million metric ton/yr (93478.25 metric ton/10yrs)
Total 2.702 million metric tons/yr

 

Recycling and disposal of E-waste

The process of recycling in Bangladesh has the potential to be hazardous to the recycler’s health. Equipment recycling and dismantling is a continually growing business, yet a formal recycling sector does not exist. All the recycling is being carried out by the informal sector. It is estimated that 120,000 urban poor from the informal sector are involved in the recycling trade chain in Dhaka city. 15% of the total waste generated in Dhaka (mainly inorganic) equates to 475 tons recycled daily. Of this amount, only 20% to 35% is recycled, while the remainder is disposed of in landfills, rivers, ponds, drains, lakes and open spaces.

 

Impacts due to the E- waste hazard:

 

Environmental pollution

Disposal of e-waste without appropriate measures in place can cause damaging environmental pollution. A lack of awareness resulting from a lack of available information relating to the handling and recycling of these expired products can leave people exposed to health hazards.  E-waste is threatening the soil content of our farming land and reducing the productivity of our crop land.

 

The problem develops if this e-waste is dumped in landfill sites or if is dumped illegally. There are no laws in place relating to the safe disposal of e-waste and there is no system or institution to monitor the dumping of electronic goods. If the parts are dumped in the waterways of Bangladesh, then the toxic chemicals are left to seep into the soil and the aquifer of water can be contaminated with lethal chemicals.

Health hazards: (From e-waste containing mercury, lead, cadmium)

            Mercury Lead Cadmium
Brain disorders,

Kidney, renal and neurological damage,

Leading to even death.

 

Learning disabilities,

Mental retardation,

Behavioral problems,

Hearing impairment.

 

Lung damage,

Fragility of bones,

High blood pressure,

Nerve and brain damage,

Kidney and liver disease.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

Till now no effective steps have been taken to stop generating e-waste or strict disposal of this sludge. Following actions can be taken as part of way forward:

  1. Inventory of E-waste in large cities of Bangladesh.
  2. Develop E-waste policy and guideline with consultation with the relevant stakeholders.
  3. Establish efficient collection system at least for selected electronic waste.
  4. Registration and capacity development of E-waste recyclers.
  5. Introduction of Environmental Management System in E-waste sector.
  6. Establish E-waste tracking mechanism in order to update the inventory.
  7. Awareness raising and development of communication material (poster, leaflets, brochure, TV spot).
  8. Monitor e-waste trafficking and shipment

 

Posted by on Jun 2 2013. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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