In our today’s society, people have totally become dependent on electronic, at the point that electronic material is nearly become a primary need for everybody. Even though the society seems to be running much better now than before this electronic revolution, no one seems to care about any consequences on the environment, the health or the future! Yet those consequences are far from to be insignificant. What are the current solutions? Are they sufficient? What measures should be taken?
First, to find any solutions, causes must be known precisely. Currently, the number of computers runs into billions and they are used to be thrown away before three years of use. Obviously, this very high demand has caused a production of mass of electronic devices. This current behaviour has a strong effect on the environment. Indeed, whenever a computer is produced, a very large amount of toxic pollutants is spread into the environment. The current answer of governments is particularly based on recycling policy. However, today’s recycling processes are far from to be unpolluted. Indeed, developed countries are used to send their electronic waste to developing countries which, most of the time, don’t know how to deal with. The recycling process should be reconsidered through facilities which are able to face this amount of waste.
Nevertheless, recycling doesn’t directly solve the issue due to a too high consumption of electronic devices. Production and consumption should be reduced by, for instance, giving tax benefits to people who buy used computers or keep theirs longer. The amount of computers and the electricity consumed could be reduced by improving algorithmic efficiency, promoting virtualization through the “cloud” or using new components and materials.
To be materialized, those solutions have to face the current logic of companies which would change their sail policy only if they gain a benefit.
Green IT is the study and practice of environmentally sustainable electronic devises. Their goals are to reduce the use of hazardous materials in IT and promote the recycling of all old technologies which are calling E-Waste.
Nowadays, most of the developed countries are concern with the retreatment of the E-Waste. According to the United Nation, 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are thrown away every year. There are been send aboard in poor countries where they treat human’s health and environment. Yet some countries keep their wastes and use their own “natural” landfill. Surprisingly it’s the case of Australia who has shocking E-Waste Statistics for a developed country.
During the year 2006 in Australia, 500 000 computers were recycled within Australia but this figure have to be nuance with the 1.6 million of computers whose have been thrown away this years. In 2009 it was 249 million items whose were on their way to Australia. The Government has known for a long time that they would need to react. In 1992 they began the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development which improved the management of hazardous waste. This policy was quite a success, however considering that each Australian House contains 22 electronics devises and the quick renewal of these devices it would take more to curb the E-Waste rising.
In 2008, the environment Minister Peter Garret developed the National Waste Policy which aimed to adhere to international obligation, reduced the generation of waste and provide proper recycling. To ensure this, the government has envisaged that from 2011, every manufacturer of electronic devises would pay a tax for the cost of the future recycling. Therefore they came with other schemes to help recycling such as the PSA which would give an easily access to recycling facilities for televisions and which would create some local jobs. They keep watching the evolution of technologies and they prevent people from these changes as they have done when most of the analog televisions have been replaced by digital televisions.
The Australian’s government had made efforts to fight against the E-Waste but build legislation is long. Thus some private companies took the initiative to confront this problem.
1800Ewaste is one of them. They divert old electronic devises to prolong their lifespan, offer recycling service in all the main cities and collect personally our E waste.
Therefore famous organizations tend to make people aware of the consequence of E Waste. Greenpeace with its campaign and it’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” had input the factor “Green” in our decision and had forced electronics industry to face their responsibilities. If they want to sell their products they need to provide a proper production and a recycling plan.
Finally, the last entity who could impact on E Waste is each habitant of Australia. Using government’s help or private companies’ services, people could handle properly their waste. Thanks to that they protect the environment and they also protect themselves. Recycling a computer destroyed all the data contain in the hard drives, so instead of throwing a computer in a landfill and let everybody use the data inside you could avoid fraud and act green.
To conclude, E Waste is nowadays a real problematic for most of the countries in the world and particularly in Australia. But to change this situation government’s action isn’t enough. Companies have to involve themselves and people need to understand that acting against E Waste could serve their interests.
Nevertheless as many advertisements emphasize, IT consume a lot. A computer consumes over 2 times more energy than a refrigerator. Solving the problem of E Waste is a good thing but clearly we also need to improve the consumption of electronic devices.
Interview of George Mc.pathacraouset
Journalist: Good morning mister Mc.pathacraouset! How are you?
Mc.pathacraouset : I ‘m fine thank you
Journalist : So today we’re here to talk about green It, especially the backlashes of E-waste in Africa , that you have studied If I don’t mistaken ?
Mc.pathacraouset : You don’t . Indeed I have been living in Ghana for one year to see which consequences have E-waste on the population. And let me tell you, that there are terrible.
Journalist: First of all maybe can you explain us where does this E-waste come from? I didn’t though that people buy so much computers in Ghana
Mc: they don’t! All these devices come from developed countries in Europe or the United States.
J: But why are they sent there?
Mc : The official story, which is given by governments , says that he final purpose is to permit people to have an easier and cheaper to IT
J: and the non-official version.
Mc : Actually, developed countries use ??? As a giant garage for their broken devices. They don’t know what to do with the mountains of computers which has disposed every year.
J : But, why aren’t they recycled? We are able to recycle glass and plastic, and it works! So why can’t we do the same work for computers?
Mc: Because it’s more expensive to recycle a computer than a plastic bottle. Indeed, there are a lot of different parts that can’t be recycled the same way.
J : which are these parts?
Mc : the main component of a computer is plastic , but you have to separate it from precious metals , and wire. The problem is that governments would have to create the whole system to sort all these diferents materials, which would cost a lot.
J: hum… I see, so I guess it’s cheaper to send the dishes away…
J : So what is the destiny of a computer when it arrives in ???
Mc: it’ll end somewhere on savage garbage which are some kind of computers mountain, where people try to pick some materials.
J: which one?
Mc: people are looking for the rare metals which permit to do the printed circuits. And that’s the first issue!
Mc : because, to access these metals, people have to burn the plastic parts of computers, and burning plastic creates toxic gas. And some people spend the whole day breathing these gas. As you can guess, it’s a terrible health issue.
J: Can you give more accurate examples of the backlashes of these gas?
Mc : Actually, it is harmful for almost each part of the body: it destroys the nervous system, the breathing system , it can create hormonal problems.
J: And what are the consequences for the environment?
Mc: these dishes create a lot of pollution. First of all, the toxic gas which are produced are greenhouse gaz, which speed the global warming. Then all these devices are ??? directly on the ground, and when it rains the water flows through the dishes and contaminate rivers and groundwater.
J: hm hm and of course, when people drink it then again it creates diseases.
Mc: exactly, and it’s very difficult to purify contaminated water.
J: So , I think that thanks to you now we have an idea of the terrible consequences of E-waste in Africa.
Mc : Yes, it’s a real issue of common concern and people have to act to stop this disaster .Everybody can do something. If everybody try to dispose their computer in a place where they can be recycled, it will reduce E-waste a lot.
J: Thank you very much M.Pathacraouset, I’m sure that our reader will follow your advices. Good bye, and good luck for you’re searching.
Mc: thank you very much good bye!