Dear Visitor,

Our system has found that you are using an ad-blocking browser add-on.

We just wanted to let you know that our site content is, of course, available to you absolutely free of charge.

Our ads are the only way we have to be able to bring you the latest high-quality content, which is written by professional journalists, with the help of editors, graphic designers, and our site production and I.T. staff, as well as many other talented people who work around the clock for this site.

So, we ask you to add this site to your Ad Blocker’s "white list" or to simply disable your Ad Blocker while visiting this site.

Continue on this site freely
  HOME     MENU     SEARCH     NEWSLETTER    
TECHNOLOGY, DISCOVERY & INNOVATION. UPDATED 3 MINUTES AGO.
You are here: Home / Environment / E-Waste Mountain Is Rising in Asia
Gadget Mountain Rising in Asia Threatens Health, Environment
Gadget Mountain Rising in Asia Threatens Health, Environment
By Stephen Wright Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
PUBLISHED:
JANUARY
17
2017

The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

China was the biggest culprit with its electronic waste more than doubling, according to a new study by the United Nations University. But nearly every country in the region had massive increases between 2010 and 2015, including those least equipped to deal with the growing mountain of discarded smartphones, computers, TVs, air conditioners and other goods.

On average, electronic waste in the 12 countries in the study had increased by nearly two thirds in the five years, totaling 12.3 million tons in 2015 alone.

Rising incomes in Asia, burgeoning populations of young adults, rapid obsolescence of products due to technological innovation and changes in fashion, on top of illegal global trade in waste, are among factors driving the increases.

"Consumers in Asia now replace their gadgets more frequently. In addition, many products are designed for low cost production, but not necessarily repair, refurbishment or easy recycling," said the study. It urges governments to enact specific laws for management of electronic waste or rigorously enforce existing legislation.

Only South Korea, Taiwan and Japan have long established recycling systems based on laws introduced in the 1990s. Open dumping of lead- and mercury-laden components, open burning of plastics to release encased copper and unsafe backyard operations to extract precious metals are the norm in most countries including Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, which also lack laws governing the treatment of electronic and electrical waste.

The study said open burning and unsafe recycling is associated with a slew of health problems for workers and communities near recycling operations They include infertility, childhood development problems, impaired lung function, liver and kidney damage, inheritable genetic damage and mental health problems.

Backyard recyclers are after gold, silver, palladium and copper, mainly from printed circuit boards, but the crude acid bath extraction process releases toxic fumes and is also inefficient, recovering only a portion of the valuable material.

Asia as a whole is the biggest market for electronics and appliances, accounting for nearly half of global sales by volume, and produces the most waste.

Guiyu, a heavily-polluted rural town in China that specializes in dismantling consumer electronics, some of it exported from rich countries, has become synonymous with the costs of a throwaway high-tech world.

China has cleaned up Guiyu and other centers like it but the Basel Action Network, which brought Guiyu to international attention, said most of the dangerous practices continue in Guiyu albeit concentrated within a new industrial park on its outskirts.

Ruediger Kuehr, one of the study's authors, said the amount of waste being generated is higher than governments estimate, partly because of their narrower definitions, and should be a wake-up call to policymakers and consumers.

"We are all benefiting from the luxury of these electrical and electronic products to a certain extent, it makes our lives easier, sometimes more complicated," he said. "However if we want to continue like this we must be reusing the resources contained in electronic and electrical equipment."

A smartphone, for example, uses more than half the elements in the periodic table, some of which are very rare, and in the longer-run will be exhausted without recycling, said Kuehr.

© 2017 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Lindsey McCormick:
Posted: 2017-02-22 @ 10:35am PT
The amount of waste reported in this article is absurd. Seeing that even some recycling can be unhealthy is extremely eye-opening. We are using our resources for a luxury and harming our environment in return.

Juan Sanchez:
Posted: 2017-01-30 @ 6:19pm PT
It is my viewpoint that innovation technology is a must to happen in a dynamic world. As much as the new technological changes are welcome the same attention should be given to the pollution we create in using and disposing of such products. It is never a light matter when dealing with solid waste, or any waste in particular. Clean as you use should be a good resolution to avoid excessive technological waste, or biological waste, or any other type of refuse.

Ashleigh Hill:
Posted: 2017-01-25 @ 8:08pm PT
I've never thought once about how much pollution our new technology advances are producing. I also had no idea how unsafe some recycling facilities could be to the people that were exposed to them on a regular basis. It's such a backwards concept that a recycling facility could be so dangerous when the whole point of recycling is to make the planet a safer place.

Like Us on FacebookFollow Us on Twitter
MORE IN ENVIRONMENT
SCI-TECH TODAY
NEWSFACTOR NETWORK SITES
NEWSFACTOR SERVICES
© Copyright 2017 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.