What are we doing with electronic waste?

Some time ago, Terence Vel and I went through the store of an NGO that had been in operation for about 10 years and removed a room full of seemingly obsolete computers, printers, photocopiers and associated machinery. After much unsuccessful running around to get these repaired, we had no choice but to get rid of them. The problem is that these contain large amounts of heavy metals and other toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Known as electronic waste or e-waste for short, they can contaminate the environment and become a serious problem when they are dumped in the landfill.
What is most surprising is the environmental impact of the lowly compact disc or CD.  In the US about a billion CDs are sold every year. It is estimated that most eventually end up in the rubbish heap. I would think there might be a similar trend elsewhere including Seychelles. Since CDs are a mix of polycarbonate, plastic and aluminum, they are not biodegradable and are not easily recycled. When burnt they release toxic fumes.

Good news for environmentalists is on the way. New CDs, one made from corn and another from paper, are being developed. Sanyo has partnered with NatureWorks to produce  a type of CD called “MildDiscs” made from corn.  SANYO says that, incredibly, one ear of corn can make 10 CDs! Sony in turn has come up with the “Blue-Ray” disc that is made up of 50 percent paper.
For all of us MP3 and IPod owners, take note that songs downloaded from the Internet seem to be environmentally friendly. They take up only hard drive space, and don’t contribute directly to solid waste. As of the beginning of this year music-lovers have downloaded more than 850 million songs from  Apple’s iTunes. Apple says that if all this music had been copied to CDs it would have filled up 85 million disks.

But environmentalists are targeting even the iPod. They say that IPod maker Apple’s hardware recycling program that accepted only 1,500 tons of old equipment last year is not good enough. It is also said that iPod batteries wear out too soon forcing owners to throw the music players away prematurely.

Music industry analysts and environmentalists all agree that music downloaded from the “net” is better for the environment, especially if people recycle as much of their electronic waste as possible or repair and upgrade their computers.  In many counties, but unfortunately not Seychelles, Apple, Dell, HP and IBM all offer low-cost ways to recycle hardware directly.  In some developing countries a host of people will also repair and upgrade computers, but here our options are limited.

Our History

Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

@CousinIsland Manager

Facebook: http://goo.gl/Q9lXM

Roche Caiman, Mahe

Contact Us

Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 4601100

Fax: + 248 4601102

Email: nature@seychelles.net