Friday, January 30, 2009


Government prepares to tackle growing ‘e-waste’ problem
The rapid development of technology in Turkey in recent years has meant not only an increase in the consumption of electronic goods, but also an ever-growing problem of electronic waste.

As of 2008 the per capita rate of electronic waste in Turkey was more than 2.5 kilograms per year; however, not even half of this waste is disposed of properly. For this reason, the Environment and Forestry Ministry is aiming to collect just 50 percent of this waste. Currently there are only three companies in Turkey that specialize in the collection and disposal of electronic waste. Experts warn that electronic goods that are haphazardly thrown into normal trash sites or by the side of the road will wind up getting mixed with soil and the water supply. These same experts note that the increased arsenic level that has damaged İzmir’s water sources is a result of electronic waste from batteries, cell phones and computers that has leaked into the water.

Electronic waste includes extremely dangerous and harmful materials such as lead, arsenic, selenium, chrome, cobalt and mercury that can threaten both human health and the environment.

When these used materials are not recycled, this leads to both damage to the environment and more rapid consumption of energy and transportation resources. For example, while it takes 1,000 units of energy to produce one unit of aluminum, it takes only for units of energy to recycle that same unit of aluminum. When the current energy crisis facing the world is considered, the importance of recycling becomes much clearer.

The management of electronic waste is accepted as one of the most rapidly growing environmental challenges for the world.

It is expected that by the middle of 2009 new regulations will go into effect to address the growing levels of electronic waste in Turkey. Currently the three companies that collect electronic waste in Turkey (two operate only in İzmir and one operates in both İzmir and İstanbul) work with a special certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Environmental engineer Metin Karaçam, who works at the İzmir-based Electronic Waste Recycling Company (EAG), says the current situation is worrisome for many companies.

According to Karaçam, recycling campaigns being held by electronics distributors are based more on the self-interest of these companies than on the interests of the customers.

In the European Union, regulations on electronic waste were approved in 2002 and put into effect in 2003.

According to these regulations, companies that produce electronic goods are responsible for overseeing their collection and disposal.

Current EU regulations on the issue have been translated into Turkish and adapted to Turkey in order to prevent any adaptation problems. Teams coming to Turkey from the EU in March will meet with companies that produce electronic goods as well as recycling companies. Karaçam believes this coming together of the EU and the Turkish sides on this matter will speed up the implementation of the new regulations. At this point, according to Karaçam, companies producing electronic goods are not really being pushed to take responsibility for the electronic waste produced as a result of their goods.


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