Latest Stories

Winning the war against electronic waste

50M tons of e-waste are produced every year, UNEP says


The accelerating rate of replacement of electronic and technological products has resulted in a serious problem that is growing in magnitude—the proliferation of electronic waste worldwide. PHOTO FROM TOTALLY COOL PIX.COM

MANILA, Philippines—By the time you get your hands on the newest phone model you’ve always wanted, a faster, smaller and perhaps even cheaper version comes out of the pipeline.

Such is the blistering pace of today’s advances in technology that any product becomes obsolete in a matter of months.

The accelerating rate of replacement, however, has resulted in a serious problem that is growing in magnitude—the proliferation of electronic waste worldwide.

According to data from the International Environmental Technology Center of the United Nations Environment Program, an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste are produced every year.

Electronic waste or waste of electrical and electronic equipment refers to discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, television sets and refrigerators.

In a briefing in Pattaya, Thailand, organized by Fuji Xerox, UNEP Asia Pacific regional director Dr. Park Young-Woo said that the volume of e-waste is increasing by a massive 40 percent a year worldwide, equivalent to about 15 tons a year, about 80 percent of which end up in landfills and incinerators.

According to UNEP, e-waste is the fastest-growing type of waste, particularly in some developing countries where the volume is expected to grow by up to 500 percent over the next decade.

Dr. Park said about half of the current annual volume is coming from Asia Pacific because of the growing population as well as affluence of citizens, which means greater demand for the latest mobile phones, refrigerators, television sets, tablets and office equipment.

The growing volume of e-waste is a cause for great concern because it contains hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium and hexavalent chromium that pose a serious threat to human health.

Park, who is also a representative of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said one way to win the war against electronic waste is to promote recycling, as many of the components—such as plastics, paper, glass, rubber, copper, and aluminum—can be either reused or recycled.

UNEP data show that a ton of used mobile phones, for example, yield $15,000 worth of precious metals such as gold.

Recycling has its social and economic benefits as seen by companies such as Fuji Xerox that have embraced the 3 Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—as part of their corporate strategy.

Fuji Xerox, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of office equipment, was actually way ahead of the curve as it established a company-wide produce recycle policy as early as 1995, years before environmental protection and climate change became part of the global consciousness.

This was borne out of the company’s belief that it is responsible for what happens to the office equipment at the end of their useful life.

Thus, through the years, the company was able to perfect the technology of reusing office equipment components in the manufacturing of new products.

Components that cannot be used in the remanufacturing process, on the other hand, are collected by recycling companies in keeping with the company’s zero-landfill policy, according to Yoshihiro Sasaki, general manager of the Global Recycling System of Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd.

Park is confident that as more companies promote corporate-wide recycling, such as what Fuji Xerox is doing, the adverse environmental impact of e-waste will be greatly reduced.

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila 6 mins elapsed Lacson: Number of pork-tainted senators could form quorum 8 mins elapsed Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila 13 mins elapsed Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend 37 mins elapsed Napoles’ surgery successful—doctor 38 mins elapsed Santiago wants Senate to recall Napoles 51 mins elapsed Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate 1 hour elapsed Sherpas leave Everest; some expeditions nix climbs 1 hour elapsed
Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: e-waste , electrical , Electronics , environmental issues , technology

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V6JTYBZXUSXIDCD67ACZK7NUKM Joseph

    Ayala has an e-waste program that collects old gadgets and properly disposes of them.

    Why didn’t you feature them in this article?


       because there is nothing admirable about the Ayalas.. if you dont believe me, ask Richard Gomez

Copyright © 2014,
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement Advertisement


  • Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila
  • Lacson: Number of pork-tainted senators could form quorum
  • Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila
  • Napoles’ surgery successful—doctor
  • Santiago wants Senate to recall Napoles
  • Sports

  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Popovich wins NBA coach of the year
  • Lifestyle

  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Safety in online buying and selling
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Violence mars militant protest at US Embassy
  • Advertisement