Nothing lasts forever, so they say — gadgets included. These are usually traded in or discarded for newer and more advanced models. Such behavior, though, has a negative impact on the environment and our health.
To address this concern, Globe’s E-Waste Zero program advocates for responsible disposal and recycling of electronic waste. It provides a way for anyone to donate their old, non-working electronic devices.
“Recognizing just how irresponsible and unsystematic disposal of e-waste can potentially impact the environment and our lives, we endeavored to proactively find and create more viable solutions that will curb the adverse effects of e-waste,” said Yoly Crisanto, Globe Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP for Corporate Communications.
To broaden our knowledge on e-waste, what they are and why we must be mindful in discarding them, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
1) What is e-waste?
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) define e-waste as any old, non-working, and end-of-life device, covering all Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and its components. Among the more familiar items under this category are old mobile phones, broken chargers, laptops, desktops, and other electronic gadgets. It may also include small and large household appliances as well as consumer, lighting, sports, medical, monitoring, and control equipment.
2) Just how big is the e-waste problem at present?
It is estimated that more than 50 million metric tons of e-waste are produced worldwide every year. The UNEP estimates that out of this number, only 20% are formally recycled and 80% end up in landfills, posing threats to both the environment and human health. In the Philippines, the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) also considers e-waste as one of the fastest-growing waste streams.
3) Aren’t these recycled by those engaged in the junkyard business, and are a source of livelihood for the informal sector?
This is where the danger lies. E-waste is made up of different materials that are toxic and hazardous, making the process of recycling risky. While the informal sector may benefit from this, their methods of dismantling and recycling are not aligned with approved government and health standards. In fact, the UN Environment Programme cited in their 2019 report that “informal and rudimentary recycling methods, as well as uncontrolled disposal, are responsible for large releases of hazardous chemicals in many developing countries, impacting human health and the environment locally. Women and children, as well as those living in the vicinity of recycling sites, remain among the most vulnerable groups.” Hence, programs that help transition the informal sector to a formal one are beneficial to the environment, health and livelihood of local communities.
4) What are some of the elements found in e-waste and how can they actually harm us?
According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, produced through a collaboration between various organizations such as the United Nations University, the World Health Organization, and International Solid Waste Association, electronic gadgets and their batteries contain several toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFR), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
The increasing levels of e-waste, low collection rates, and non-environmentally sound disposal and treatment of this waste stream pose significant risks to the environment. E-waste in landfills contaminate the soil and groundwater which affect food and water sources hence, posing risks to human health.
5) What are the benefits of proper e-waste recycling?
First of all, it helps conserve natural resources since materials from old electronics can be used to make new products. Proper e-waste recycling can protect the environment as it reduces the amount of hazardous waste that can end up in landfills and water streams. It also prevents health hazards, especially to those who are settled in informal communities. Lastly, it saves space in landfills by diverting materials to the recycling plants.
6) What actually happens to the e-waste when they are discarded properly and responsibly?
Upon collection, they are turned over to accredited Treatment, Storage, and Disposal (TSD) Facilities which have the capacity and technology to process hazardous waste. Materials found to still be useful undergo certain processes that may include crushing and sorting where a filter separates the remaining non-metal powders. The treated metal powder is then further processed to recover gold, silver, and palladium and are ready for reuse as “brand new” raw materials.
Join the movement to reduce e-waste! Small and handy e-waste may be dropped off at participating Globe Stores nationwide. For one-time hauling of bulky e-waste weighing 10 kg and above, a request for free door-to-door pickup can be made through https://www.globe.com.ph/about-us/sustainability/environment.html.
Interested organizations may also contact Globe to explore long-term partnerships regarding its E-waste Zero program by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Globe remains committed to the 10 UN Global Compact principles and contributes to 10 UN Sustainable Development Goals such as UNSDG No. 12, which is to promote sustainable consumption and production to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, by urgently reducing ecological footprint, increasing resource efficiency, and promoting sustainable lifestyles.