Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This is a new term for some people and while I have heard of it I only in this class learned exactly what ewaste is. Essentially, ewatse is anything that is man made such as paper, plastics and chemicals. Some substances such as mercury are included to. Over 50 million tonnes/year of ewaste is formed globally with 140,000 tonnes e-waste/year coming from Canada (2003). That's about 4.5Kg/Canadian. Most of it is toxic heavy metals.

Here are some of the metals and their uses and effects:

- 4750 tonnes disposed/year in Canada
- Solder, gasses

- Chip resistors, infrared detectors, plastics and conductors

- 22% of global mercury use from electronics
- Used in batteries, switches, housing
- Neurotoxin, Bioaccumulates and biomagnifies

Now for plastics:
- Its used in housing, cabling
- Productions and incineration – dioxins, furans
o Carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, liver damage
- Bisphenol A, phalates

And Brominated Flame Retardants (PBDE’s)
- Printed circuit boards, connectors, plastic covers and cables
- Endocrine disruptors and neurotoxin
- Persistent in environment

What can we do about these harmful substances and the negative impact they are having on our environment? Some solutions include Waste Management, Procurement and through Technology development:
- Contain fewer toxic constituents
- Energy efficient
- Designed for easy upgrading/disassembly
- Use minimal packaging
- Offer leasing or take back options
- Meet performance criteria showing they are environmentally preferable

Paper has its own issues and unique solutions:

- 1983-2003: nearly doubled (shocking in the digital age but remember that some people feel the need to print off every email and tax document (however the latter is sound and safe thinking))
- 91Kg, 20,000 pages/person/year
- Excess paper storage
- Associated toner, binders, etc

Solutions (paper)
- Recycling
- Reduction
- Rethinking?

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