What is E Waste Management?
Electronic Waste is the connotation used to describe discarded electronics parts and equipment. Second-hand electronics and circuit components are also considered as a part of this market. The recovery, reuse, disposal and recycling of discarded electronics parts, equipment as well as components is known as E Waste Management.
Recycled ewaste accounts for major business vertical in developing nations. One of the key factors for the growth of the recycled e waste market within emerging economies is the availability of cheap labor. Some of the key nations that play an integral role in the E Waste business include Nigeria, the Togolese Republic, China, India, and Lebanon.
Regional Mapping for the Electronic Waste Market
The US is one of the largest economies and contributors to the generation of ewaste. The country produces roughly 3 million tonnes of electronic waste annually despite the ban imposed by several nations on the generation and improper disposal of electronic waste. A large portion of the E Waste generated within the US is exported to developing countries that serve as general refuse. Self-employed Electronics component repairers dismantle the imported product for component recycling and material recovery. The obtained materials are then sold locally within the markets for developing countries.
However, the growth in E Waste within developing nations is a key environmental concern. The improper disposal of electronic components has led to serious degeneration in public health and sanitation for these countries. On a global basis, Agbogbloshie (located in Accra, Ghana) is considered to be the largest ewaste dump. Agbogbloshie’s below poverty line population has spent years dismantling, recovering, weighing, and reselling electronic components. Agbogbloshie is regarded as Ghana’s largest urban slum. As per research conducted in the year 2009, Agbogbloshie has an area of 0.4 Km2. The region was home to roughly 79,6558 people. Roughly 4500-6000 people have gained employment opportunities within this region due to the presence of an electronic dump. As per the multiplier effect, approximately 1500 people found indirect livelihoods due to the same.
Market Data obtained from secondary research also suggests that the E Waste activities within Ghana sustain the livelihood of roughly 200,000 people. Revenue of approximately USD 105-USD 268 Million is generated annually owing to the presence of this E Waste dump. The revenue generated translates to an import of 280,000 metric tonnes of E Waste out of which 1% was processed via a formal facility. Thus, the efforts of the urban poor in reducing the E Waste stocks within Ghana are presently unrecognized. The percentage of working goods obtained from a typical ewaste shipment is expected to range between 25-60% depending on the informal or formal status of the importing facility/ importer.
The Ghanaian government stated that it would create a bill to ban the import of E Waste. However, this bill was anticipated to destabilize the economy since the livelihoods of several citizens depended on the E Waste business. The market for formal and informal E Waste management is lucrative for organized scarp dealers.
Impacts of Improper E Waste Management on the Local Economy
Improper Ewaste management has a direct impact on the general health and well-being of the population within a given region. Prolonged exposure to the radiation emitted by E Waste could potentially result in occupational diseases and accidents. The estimated value for global E Waste generated is valued to be USD 65 Billion annually. On a global basis, approximately 20% of the E Waste generated is formally recycled. While 80% is either informally recycled or disposed of.
Therefore, the percentage population exposed to the improper handling of E Waste is larger as compared to the number of people using legitimate means to treat the mentioned. The workers who generally deal with ewaste in an informal scenario are low-wage employees. Hence the percentage of the underprivileged population which is exposed to hazardous and carcinogenic substances increases marginally on the improper management of E Waste.
Market Database suggests that some of the visible social issues that are expected to rise due to the growth in informal processing of E Waste include violation of human rights, lack of labor security, and labor absenteeism. The increased proliferation of uncertified recyclers is also anticipated to boost corruption. From an urbanization perspective, the growth in landfills allotted for E Waste disposal also accounts for improper usage of land.
Initiatives are taken by consumers and governing bodies to support E Waste recycling
The US Environmental Protection Agency has been encouraging electronic recyclers to become certified. The electronic recyclers are encouraged to provide a demonstration to an accredited, third-party auditor to ensure that they comply with the mentioned environmental standards. Electronics recycling is also making headway within the European Union. The EU instated legislation starting 2016 that entailed the collection of roughly 45 tonnes of E Waste. Additionally, as per recent environmental acts, the holding manufacturers for electronics in the EU are responsible for the safe disposal of used items that are in possession of the consumers. Therefore, on releasing newer versions of an existing device, the company in charge is hereafter responsible to discard the older versions of the device safely.
The EU also enacted the “Right to Repair standards” in the year 2019. As per the mentioned regulation, the electronics manufacturers are expected to increase the shelf life of the products by roughly 10 years. On studying the current market scenario, it is to be noted that the global markets are still in the growth stage of the product life cycle for electronic waste management. In 2020, the United Nations stated that roughly 25 states in the US have legislation for recycling electronic waste. However, the lack of standardized regulations on a national level accounts for gaps in enforcement and impact.
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