Sunday, December 26, 2010

Philippines Rationality

The changing color of technology
By Alma Buelva (The Philippine Star) Updated December 27, 2010 12:00 AM

| Zoom
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness...” — Charles Dickens

MANILA, Philippines - The words of the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era ring true 140 years after his death as humanity gets all wrapped up in the conveniences made possible by advanced technologies that, in turn, they also blame for polluting the planet.

Technology changes fast, but so does the climate. The best of both worlds doesn’t seem to exist anymore and can’t be had unless drastic measures are taken that will make the environment, to borrow a popular phrase from social networking, “add technology as friend.”

Unsustainable energy consumption and high levels of electronic waste and greenhouse gas emissions fly in the face of state-of-the-art technological progress. It’s been proven, however, that necessity is the mother of all invention and who else should know this better than the movers and shakers in the information technology (IT) industry who are addressing the need to “go green” with innovations designed not to damage nature any further.

Models of green

The IT industry is responsible for about two percent of the world’s carbon emissions and data centers are the fastest growing part of that footprint, according to a new report from Pike Research, a research company from Boulder, Colorado that specializes in market intelligence related to clean technology.

While energy efficiency has not traditionally been a major emphasis for IT companies, the industry is now highly focused on implementing solutions that will reduce energy expenses and carbon emissions, especially those associated with data center operations. Pike Research estimates investment in greener data centers will experience rapid growth over the next five years, increasing from $7.5 billion in global revenue to $41.4 billion by 2015, representing 28 percent of the total data center market.

Green data centers optimize their use of space, energy and IT resources with emphasis on virtualization. Software powerhouse SAP is among those that have taken the green route that last year saw a huge reduction in the carbon footprint of its global data centers.

In September, the German company announced that it cut its global carbon footprint by 15 percent last year, which meant savings of about €90 million. SAP said it reduced its carbon footprint from 501 kilotons of carbon in 2008 to 425 kilotons in 2009 by increasing the efficiencies of its data centers to lower energy consumption. In addition, the software company cut back on employee business travels by 32 percent and held more virtual meetings instead. It likewise encouraged its employees to carpool whenever possible.

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), caused by a company, event, product or individual. When environment-conscious IT companies are not focused on carbon footprints, they are literally looking up to the sun for sustainable solutions. Also, as they are wont to do, they turn to their own software tools to help improve their environmental standing.

The sun and software make for strange bedmates, but together they make for some of the best new tools that the IT industry is using to be friends with the earth again. A case in point is consumer electronics giant Sharp Electronics, which has been harvesting solar energy in every possible way. The company’s headquarters complex in Japan has manufacturing and office buildings literally covered with solar panels that steadily supply the company with an alternative and clean source of energy. A global leader in solar electricity, Sharp has brought the world the first solar-powered calculator and now has solar-powered products for residential and commercial applications.

Pike Research says the abundance of solar modules has cultivated demand for solar solutions so that between 2010 and 2013, solar demand will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 percent.

Meanwhile, adoption of carbon management software and services by enterprises around the world is on the rise. This happens as corporations grapple with ways to accurately measure and reduce their carbon footprint to meet targets set by their own corporate sustainability programs, industry initiatives, and government mandates. Pike Research estimates the global market for carbon management software and services to expand by 40 percent annually from $384 million in 2009 to more than $4.3 billion by 2017.


The search for sustainable and clean sources of energy is also taking some Japanese inventors to look in the most unlikely places. One research is now exploring the possibility of harvesting energy from wasted body heat of people who just laze around the house or in front of the TV. Researchers believe wasted body heat of idle people could be captured and converted into energy to power at least the couch potatoes’ weapon of choice: the TV remote.

Top auto makers such as Honda and Toyota, along with 21 other Japanese companies, have gone on an “energy scavenging” campaign to create sustainable electronic devices for use at homes, offices and automobiles based on energy amassed from body warmth. According to Japanese researchers, even the smallest movements of the most determined couch potato could be turned into useful energy to power a battery-free TV remote or video game controller with the aid of vibration capture technology. If they succeed, being a couch potato could become a real job.

Vibration capture technology is also the inspiration behind another Japanese research that studied how heavy foot traffic, say in a subway station, could be turned into energy. With the help of sound waves, researchers developed a so-called “electricity-generating floor” that creates energy when passengers step on them. The energy is then stored in a capacitor for the subway’s use. Although more work is needed, an electricity-generating floor is designed to help subways and railways become more energy-efficient by tapping an unusual source of energy - footsteps. If this comes into fruition, then we all could walk the talk toward a greener future.

Carbon footprints

But should green technologies only preoccupy big organizations with equally big data centers and passionate researchers looking for solutions from under the seats of couch potatoes?

As any environment pundit would say, every individual can contribute something to ensure a healthy environment. For example, IT users could opt to buy only products that comply with standards set in the Energy Star, a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Or they could check the carbon footprints of technologies they use and know at least how something as ordinary as sending and receiving e-mail or reading online newspapers and e-books could affect the environment when multiplied by billions of instances daily worldwide.

Not everything new is green and it’s true with e-mail. Something as deceptively harmless as an e-mail does have carbon footprint. This makes useless spam messages all the more aggravating.

The average spam e-mail causes emissions equivalent to 0.3 gram of CO2 per message, according to a study on the environmental impact of spam conducted by climate change consultants ICT and spam expert Richi Jennings. In 2008, ICF said an estimated total of 62 trillion spam e-mails were sent worldwide.

The study, commissioned by virus protection and Internet security company McAfee, emphasized that the 0.3 gram of CO2 per spam, when multiplied by the annual volume of spam, is like driving around the earth 1.6 million times. The ICF arrived at this figure by calculating the energy use associated with each stage in the lifecycle of spam, including the energy used to create, transmit, receive, process or view, and filter spam. The total energy required adds up to more than 33 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), which ICF said is roughly equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes and the greenhouse gas emissions of 3.1 million cars using two billion gallons of gasoline. If these parallel examples are not mind-blowing enough, the ICF added that the total energy wasted on spam is similar to the power provided by four large new coal power plants.

The study, which examined the degree of spam problems in 11 countries, maintained that the level of spam-related emissions per country is usually proportionate to the number of e-mail users. Simply put: the more users, the more spam. Also, ICF established that an average business e-mail user is responsible for 131kg of e-mail-related CO2 emissions per year and 22 percent of that are due to spam.

Self-serving or not, McAfee’s commissioned study showed that spam filtering could save 135 terawatt hours of electricity a year, which is equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road. A day without spam is therefore good for the environment, the study concluded.

Meanwhile, the advent of online newspapers and electronic books or e-books caused many to ask if they are truly more environment-friendly than their paper versions that necessitate the cutting down of trees. The jury is still out on this one but because e-newspapers and e-books consume power, they also leave carbon footprints.

Mike Berners-Lee, a leading British expert who specializes in organizational responses to climate change, said if a person browses for an hour a week on a 50-watt laptop, the energy consumed is less than a weekly paper even if the direct electricity impact is scaled up by a factor of five to account for the production of the laptop, the networks and all the other IT products involved to upload the newspaper online.

Of course, a host of other factors must be considered to determine if online newspapers and e-books are greener than the paper products they replace. But in the meantime, those of us with an insatiable appetite for consuming digital products and services might do well to recall Dickens, yet again, who said, “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.”

Friday, December 24, 2010


Sophia Coppola’s New Film ‘Somewhere’ Boasts Green Production Efforts
Filed under: film-tv, green and famous, movies — Michael Parrish DuDell @ 1:21 pm. from ecorazzi

Although we love going to the cinema, making a movie can be super taxing on Mother Earth. In the upcoming film Somewhere, however, director Sophia Coppola made a serious effort to make the production process as green as possible.

“We had a small crew. We did what we could not to make waste, didn’t use a lot of lights, and we all had our own water bottles,” says Coppola. “In my own life I try to be aware as much as I can, you know, recycle, and just learn more about what you can do.”

The film centers around an emotionally adrift movie star, played by Stephen Dorff, who goes through some big life changes thanks to his teenage daughter.

For Dorff, being eco-friendly is a big deal and something the actor tries to focus on in his personal life.

“I believe in doing a lot for the environment. One thing we can definitely do is limit some of the carcinogenic smoke that comes from some of these vehicles,” says Dorff. “Another thing is, obviously, recycling and doing the basics.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Should You Be Snuggling With Your Cellphone?


WARNING: Holding a cellphone against your ear may be hazardous to your health. So may stuffing it in a pocket against your body.

I’m paraphrasing here. But the legal departments of cellphone manufacturers slip a warning about holding the phone against your head or body into the fine print of the little slip that you toss aside when unpacking your phone. Apple, for example, doesn’t want iPhones to come closer than 5/8 of an inch; Research In Motion, BlackBerry’s manufacturer, is still more cautious: keep a distance of about an inch.

The warnings may be missed by an awful lot of customers. The United States has 292 million wireless numbers in use, approaching one for every adult and child, according to C.T.I.A.-The Wireless Association, the cellphone industry’s primary trade group. It says that as of June, about a quarter of domestic households were wireless-only.

If health issues arise from ordinary use of this hardware, it would affect not just many customers but also a huge industry. Our voice calls — we chat on our cellphones 2.26 trillion minutes annually, according to the C.T.I.A. — generate $109 billion for the wireless carriers.

The cellphone instructions-cum-warnings were brought to my attention by Devra Davis, an epidemiologist who has worked for the University of Pittsburgh and has published a book about cellphone radiation, “Disconnect.” I had assumed that radiation specialists had long ago established that worries about low-energy radiation were unfounded. Her book, however, surveys the scientific investigations and concludes that the question is not yet settled.

Brain cancer is a concern that Ms. Davis takes up. Over all, there has not been a general increase in its incidence since cellphones arrived. But the average masks an increase in brain cancer in the 20-to-29 age group and a drop for the older population.

“Most cancers have multiple causes,” she says, but she points to laboratory research that suggests mechanisms by which low-energy radiation could damage cells in ways that could possibly lead to cancer.

Children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults, Ms. Davis and other scientists point out. Radiation that penetrates only two inches into the brain of an adult will reach much deeper into the brains of children because their skulls are thinner and their brains contain more absorptive fluid. No field studies have been completed to date on cellphone radiation and children, she says.

Henry Lai, a research professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Washington, began laboratory radiation studies in 1980 and found that rats exposed to radiofrequency radiation had damaged brain DNA. He maintains a database that holds 400 scientific papers on possible biological effects of radiation from wireless communication. He found that 28 percent of studies with cellphone industry funding showed some sort of effect, while 67 percent of studies without such funding did so. “That’s not trivial,” he said.

The unit of measurement for radiofrequency exposure is called the specific absorption rate, or SAR. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that the SAR produced by phones be no more than 1.6 watts per kilogram. One study listed by Mr. Lai found effects like loss of memory in rats exposed to SAR values in the range of 0.0006 to 0.06 watts per kilogram. “I did not expect to see effects at low levels,” he said.

The city of San Francisco passed an ordinance this year that requires cellphone retailers to post SARs prominently. This angered the C.T.I.A., which announced that it would no longer schedule trade shows in the city.

The association maintains that all F.C.C.-approved phones are perfectly safe. John Walls, the association’s vice president for public affairs, said: “What science tells us is, ‘If the sign on the highway says safe clearance is 12 feet,’ it doesn’t matter if your vehicle is 4 feet, 6 feet or 10 feet tall; you’re going to pass through safely. The same theory applies to SAR values and wireless devices.”

The association has set up a separate Web site, Four attractive young people are seen on the home page, each with a cellphone pressed against the ear — and all four are beaming as they listen. By this visual evidence, cellphone use seems to be correlated with elation, not cancer.

The largest study of cellphone use and brain cancer has been the Interphone International Case-Control Study, in which researchers in 13 developed countries (but not the United States) participated. It interviewed brain cancer patients, 30 to 59 years old, from 2000 to 2004, then cobbled together a control group of people who had not regularly used a cellphone.

The study concluded that using a cellphone seemed to decrease the risk of brain tumors, which the authors acknowledged was “implausible” and a product of the study’s methodological shortcomings.

The authors included some disturbing data in an appendix available only online. These showed that subjects who used a cellphone 10 or more years doubled the risk of developing brain gliomas, a type of tumor.

The 737 minutes that we talk on cellphones monthly, on average, according to the C.T.I.A., makes today’s typical user indistinguishable from the heavy user of 10 years ago. Ms. Davis recommends keeping a phone out of close proximity to the head or body, by using wired headsets or the phone’s speaker. Children should text rather than call, she said, and pregnant women should keep phones away from the abdomen.
The F.C.C. concurs about the best way to avoid exposure. It is not by choosing a phone with a marginally lower SAR, it says, but rather by holding the cellphone “away from the head or body.”

It’s advice that I find hard to put into practice myself. The comforting sight of everyone around me with phones pressed against their ears, just like me, makes the risk seem abstract.

But Ms. Davis, citing unsettling findings from research in Israel, France, Sweden and Finland, said, “I do think I’m looking at an epidemic in slow motion.”




Hewlett-Packard helps build Kenya e-waste plant
San Francisco Business Times - by Steven E.F. Brown
Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 12:54pm PST

Computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. is helping build an electronic waste recycling plant in Kenya along with an Irish nonprofit, Camara Education Ltd.
Palo Alto-based HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Dublin’s Camara are putting this plant in Mombassa, on the coast, where there aren’t any such facilities right now (only the capital, Nairobi, has any significant e-waste recycling, and it’s expensive to truck discarded junk more than 300 miles by road, which takes up to six hours. Train trips take 13 hours between the cities.). They hope to open the plant by the end of the year.
Having a port facility also makes it easier to ship recycled material overseas for sale or further processing.
Computer use is growing in Kenya, but the use of mobile phones is growing even faster, and they generate a great deal of electronic device waste.
Kenya’s government said cell phone connections grew by 34 percent between 2008 and 2009, hitting 17.4 million.
Refrigerators, televisions, computers, printers and phones make up most of the e-waste generated in Kenya, according to the United Nations.
Camara is a charity that seeks to improve education in Africa through technology. It has two main businesses -- education and computer reuse. People and companies in Ireland donate used computers and Camara wipes them of data, loads up new software, and uses them in Africa.

Read more: Hewlett-Packard helps build Kenya e-waste plant | San Francisco Business Times


Dear Toby,

This morning, we released our newest Story of Stuff Project movie - The Story of Electronics - a look at the 'design for the dump' mentality so prevalent in the electronics industry.

This movie couldn't come at a better time: this November, Americans are expected to spend over $8.5 billion on consumer electronics, motivated by enticements to buy gizmos we don't really need or to replace gadgets that are still working with slightly newer versions.

The thing is, making all these devices takes an enormous environmental and public health toll: mining the metals trashes communities from Congo to Indonesia; assembling them uses huge amounts of water and energy and exposes workers to a host of toxic chemicals; and getting rid of them when we're on to the next, newer, better model creates mountains of e-waste.

The good news is that while the production, consumption and disposal of short-lived, toxics laden electronics are a really big problem, the solution is pretty simple: Make 'em Safe, Make 'em Last, and Take 'em Back.

We're releasing The Story of Electronics today to send a clear message to the electronics industry: it's time to send that design for the dump mentality to the dump where it belongs and start making less toxic, longer lasting and more easily recyclable products.

Our goal is to get a quarter of a million people to watch The Story of Electronics by Black Friday, just over two weeks from now.

You can help us reach this goal by:

Watching The Story of Electronics;

Sharing the movie with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students and anyone else you think might be interested;

Reading Annie's Huffington Post piece about the movie, and then commenting on it, liking it or sharing it; and

Working with our partners at the Electronics TakeBack Coalition to tell two of the largest electronics manufacturers-Acer and Lenovo-to "Make 'em Safe, Make 'em Last, and Take 'em Back!"
Every time we release one of our movies, we're floored by the way our community jumps in to spread the message. We know this time will be no different.
So, thank you, and we hope you enjoy The Story of Electronics!


Annie, Michael, Allison, Christina and Renee

The Story of Stuff Project Team

P.S. It costs a pretty penny to produce and distribute our movies. You can help offset the distribution costs we're racking up this week with a secure, on-line donation to The Story of Stuff Project. Thank you!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


India: Land of many cell phones, fewer toilets
By RAVI NESSMAN The Associated Press
News Fuze
MUMBAI, India—The Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup along the rocky, pocked earth that serves as a road. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.
And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.
Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.
When U.S. President Barack Obama visits India Nov. 6, he will find a country of startlingly uneven development and perplexing disparities, where more people have cell phones than access to a toilet, according to the United Nations.
It is a country buoyed by a vibrant business world of call centers and software developers, but hamstrung by a bloated, corrupt government that has failed to deliver the barest of services.
Its estimated growth rate of 8.5 percent a year is among the highest in the world, but its roads are crumbling.
It offers cheap, world-class medical care to Western tourists at private hospitals, yet has some of the worst child mortality and maternal death rates outside sub-Saharan Africa.
And while tens of millions have benefited from India's rise, many more remain mired in some of the worst poverty in the world.
Businessman Mukesh Ambani, the world's fourth-richest person, is just finishing off a new $1 billion skyscraper-house in Mumbai with 27 floors and three helipads, touted as the most expensive home on earth. Yet farmers still live in shacks of mud and cow dung.
The cell phone frenzy bridges all worlds. Cell phones are sold amid the Calvin Klein and Clinique stores under the soaring atriums of India's new malls, and in the crowded markets of its working-class neighborhoods. Bare shops in the slums sell pre-paid cards for as little as 20 cents next to packets of chewing tobacco, while street hawkers peddle car chargers at traffic lights.
The spartan Beecham's in New Delhi's Connaught Place, one of the country's seemingly ubiquitous mobile phone dealers, is overrun with lunchtime customers of all classes looking for everything from a 35,000 rupee ($790) Blackberry Torch to a basic 1,150 rupee ($26) Nokia.
Store manager Sanjeev Malhotra adds to a decades-old—and still unfulfilled—Hindi campaign slogan promising food, clothing and shelter. "Roti, kapda, makaan" and "mobile," he riffs, laughing. "Basic needs."
There were more than 670 million cell phone connections in India by the end of August, a number that has been growing by close to 20 million a month, according to government figures.
Yet U.N. figures show that only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine, leaving 665 million to defecate in the open.
"At least tap water and sewage disposal—how can we talk about any development without these two fundamental things? How can we talk about development without health and education?" says Anita Patil-Deshmukhl, executive director of PUKAR, an organization that conducts research and outreach in the slums of Mumbai.
India's leaders say they are sympathetic to the problem.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an economist credited with unleashing India's private sector by loosening government regulation, talks about growth that benefits the masses of poor people as well as a burgeoning middle class of about 300 million. He describes a roaring Maoist insurgency in the east—which feeds in large part on the poor's discontent—as the country's biggest internal security threat.
Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling Congress Party, has pushed laws guaranteeing a right to food and education, as well as a gargantuan rural jobs program for nearly 100 million people. But as many as 800 million Indians still live on less than $2 a day, even as Mumbai's stock exchange sits near record highs.
Many fear the situation is unsustainable.
"Everybody understands the threat. Everybody recognizes that there is a gap, that this could be the thing that trips up this country," says Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director of the Mahindra & Mahindra manufacturing company.
Private companies have tried to fill that gap, and Tata sells a 749 rupee ($16) water purifier for the poor. Mafias provide water and electricity to slumdwellers at a cost far higher than what wealthy Indians pay for basic services.
"For every little thing, we have to pay," says Nusrat Khan, a 35-year-old maid and single parent who raises her four children on less than 3,000 rupees ($67) a month and blames the government for her lack of access to water and a toilet.
The government is spending $350 million a year to build toilets in rural areas. Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, estimates the country needs about 120 million more latrines—likely the largest sanitation project in world history.
"Those in power, only they can change the situation," says Pathak, who claims to have helped build a million low-cost latrines across India over the past 40 years. "India can achieve this—if it desires."
In the slums of Mumbai, home to more than half the city's population of 14 million, the yearning for toilets is so great that enterprising residents have built makeshift outhouses on their own.
In Annabhau Sathe Nagar, a raised latrine of corrugated tin empties into a river of sewage that children splash in and adults wade across. The slum in east Mumbai has about 50,000 residents and a single toilet building, with 10 pay toilets for men and eight for women—two of which are broken.
With the wait for those toilets up to an hour even at 5 a.m., and the two-rupee (4-cent) fee too expensive for many, most people either use a field or wait to use the toilets at work, says Santosh Thorat, 32, a community organizer. Nearly 60 percent have developed piles from regularly waiting to defecate, he says.
Conditions are far worse in Rafiq Nagar, a crowded, 15-year-old slum on the lip of a 110-acre garbage dump.
Most of the slumdwellers are ragpickers who sort through heaps of trash for scraps of plastic, glass, metal, even bones, anything they can sell to recyclers for cash. A pungent brew of ripe garbage and sewage blows through the trash-strewn streets, as choking smoke from wood fires rolls out the doorways of windowless huts. Children, half clothed in rags, play hopscotch next to a mysterious gray liquid that has gathered in stagnant puddles weeks after the last rainfall.
Just beside the shacks, men and women defecate in separate areas behind rolling hills of green foliage that have sprung up over the garbage. Children run through those hills, flying kites.
Khatija Sheikh, 20, splurges to use a pay toilet in another neighborhood 10 minutes away, but is never sure what condition it will be in.
"Sometimes it's clean, sometimes it's dirty. It's totally dependent on the owner's mood," says Sheikh, whose two young children use the street. Her home is less than five feet from an elevated outhouse built by a neighbor that drops sewage next to her walls.
Since there are no water pipes or wells here, residents are forced to rely on the water mafia for water for cooking, washing clothes, bathing and drinking. The neighborhood is rife with skin infections, tuberculosis and other ailments.
A large blue barrel outside a home is filled with murky brown water, tiny white worms and an aluminum drinking cup. To fill up two jerry cans costs between 40 ($.90) and 50 ($1.10) rupees a day, about one-third of the average family's earnings here.
"If the government would give us water, we would pay that money to the government," said Suresh Pache, 41, a motorized rickshaw driver.
Instead, it has issued demolition notices throughout the slum, which sits illegally on government land. Pache, whose home was razed 10 times, jokes that the destruction is the only government service he can count on.
Yet the world of technology has embraced the slumdwellers with its cheap cell phones and cut-rate calling plans that charge a sliver of a penny a minute. Pache bought his first phone for 1,400 rupees ($31) four months ago. Since then, his wife, a ragpicker, found two other broken models as she scoured the garbage dump, and he paid to have them repaired.
He speaks with fluency about the different plans offered by Tata, Reliance and Idea that cost him a total of 300 rupees ($6.70) a month. Now, when his rickshaw breaks down, he can alert his wife with a call. She uses her phone to tell the recyclers where she is in the dump so they can drive out to her, saving her the time and effort of dragging her bag of scraps to them.
Mohan Singh, a 58-year-old bicycle repairman, says his son uses their 2,000 rupee ($45) Orpat phone to play music and talk to relatives. Thorat, the community organizer, shows photographs of his neighborhood and videos of a pre-school he started on his Nokia cameraphone, while his second phone rings in his pocket. Sushila Paten, who teaches at the pre-school, organizes a phone chain with her Samsung to instantly mobilize hundreds of people in the streets when violent thugs show up demanding "rent" from the squatters.
In fact, the spread of cell phones may end up bringing toilets.
R. Gopalakrishnan, executive director of Tata Sons, one of India's most revered companies, says the rising aspirations of the poor, buttressed by their growing access to communications and information, will put tremendous pressure on the government to start delivering.
People already are starting to challenge local officials who for generations answered to no one, he says.
"I think there are very, very dramatic changes happening," he says.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A new regulation to help reduce e-waste and curb environmental pollution is set to take effect in China in January 2011. The government will establish a licensing system for the disposal and recycling of e-wastes, under which only enterprises with a proper license are eligible for e-waste disposal.

The regulation also stipulates all imported electrical products should meet the requirements for pollution control and enterprises should adopt a design conducive to innocuous treatment and recycling.

The regulation will play a significant role in helping to prevent and reduce environmental pollution, promoting comprehensive utilization of resources, developing a circular economy, building a resource-saving and environmentally-friendly society and protecting people's health, said Zhang Lijun, vice minister of environmental protection.

The e-waste products contain valuable resources, such as copper, aluminum, iron and plastic. China is a big country in terms of production and consumption of electrical and electronic products.

China produced over 9 million TV sets, 46 million refrigerators, 39 million washing machines, 68.5 million air conditioners, 138 million computers, nearly 62 million printers and 600 million mobile phones in 2008. Nearly 25 million TV sets, 5.4 million refrigerators, 10 million washing machines, 1 million air conditioners, 12 million computers, 6 million printers and 40 million mobile phones were thrown out in 2009.

By Liang Jun, People's Daily Online


Two year investigation sees nine charged over international WEEE dumping
Source URL:

Nine people have been charged today (October 14) in what the Environment Agency is saying is biggest investigation ever into illegal electrical waste exports from the UK to West Africa.

All nine have been charged with offences under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and European Waste Shipment Regulations 2006 and bailed to attend Havering Magistrates Court on November 11.

It is illegal for UK businesses to send electronic waste abroad to be dumped and the action today, follows a two year investigation.

Officers from the Environment Agency's National Crime Team began their investigations in the middle of 2008.

They claim to have uncovered a network of individuals, waste companies and export businesses involved in the export of electrical waste.

In some instances, it is alleged by the agency that 'considerable sums' of money changed hands in deals to collect and recycle electrical waste while treatment costs were avoided.

There's also evidence of the waste ending up being illegally dumped in Africa, potentially avoiding huge fees for the companies allegedly involved.

The Environment Agency's national environmental crime team manager, Andy Higham, said: "Over the past two years painstaking intelligence work by Environment Agency officers has uncovered a web of individuals and companies that appear to be making considerable sums of money by exporting electrical waste overseas.

"Exporters of broken electricals put at risk the lives of those who work on waste sites in developing countries.

"These are often children who are paid a pittance to dismantle products containing hazardous waste.

"Illegal exporters also avoid the costs of recycling in the UK and undermine law-abiding business.

"It is always a crime to export broken electricals and hazardous waste from the UK to developing countries to be dumped.

"The last thing we want is our waste causing harm to people or the environment overseas."

Luke Walsh

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Kenya promises to address e-waste challenges

Written By:Allvoices, Posted: Tue, Sep 07, 2010

The Kenyan government will address challenges and opportunities brought about by rising electronic waste (e-waste), Environment and Mineral Resources Minister John Michuki has said.

Speaking at a national Stakeholders Workshop on Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (eWaste) Nairobi 2010 on Tuesday, Michuki urged delegates government officials, representatives from National Environment Management Authority, computer software giants Microsoft, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and industry to assit the government in charting the way forward in terms of re-use, recycling and refurbishment of electronic goods.

This he said must be inline with Basel Convention Declaration and other International declarations.

The stakeholders called for urgent adoption of sound policies and clear guidelines on e-waste management in Kenya and the East African region. Microsoft's Regional Education Manager East and Southern Africa Mr. Mark Matunga called for concerted efforts in e waste management, which has proved to be a challenge to many African countries.

"There is an urgent need for the government and other stakeholders from the private sector to work towards streamlining the management of e waste, especially in the wake of increased turnover of electronic equipment on the continent. Kenya, like most Africa countries has no polices and strategies for dealing with e-waste and is therefore its population is greatly exposed to health hazards that are associated with e waste"," said Mr. Matunga.

Speaking at the workshop, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper spoke of the emerging global threats and opportunities provided by tackling growing e-waste challenge.

Acknowledging technology's potential for assisting with infrastructure and overcoming knowledge barriers, she noted innovation and technology can also play a role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, green growth and assisting with climate change challenges.

Sher said UNEP is conducting extensive research on e-waste. UNEP launched a landmark report, Recycling - from E-Waste to Resources, in February 2010 that examined e-waste in 11 developing countries, including Kenya.

A recent baseline study done in 2008 that showed Kenya generates 3,000 tons of electronic waste per year.

The study predicts that the quantity is expected to increase as demand increases.

Internationally, China, India and Pakistan receive much of the world's e-waste. Worldwide, e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tons a year.

"Raising recycling rates and re-using valuable metals and components, as well as increasing safe waste management and its regulation, is critical if countries and businesses are to transform mountains of e-waste into an asset", said Ms. Cropper

The meeting observed that increased pace of technological development and obsolescence, many appliances have a short life-expectancy and require sound re-use, recycling and disposal solutions.

Dumping or improper recycling of electronic waste causes serious environmental contamination, and while electronic goods are mostly used in the developed world, many end up in developing countries.

National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Managing Director Ayub Macharia observed that increased pace of technological development and obsolescence meant many appliances have a short life-expectancy and require sound re-use, recycling and disposal solutions.

He said dumping or improper recycling of electronic waste causes serious environmental contamination, and while electronic goods are mostly used in the developed world, many end up in developing countries.

The stakeholders also discussed among other key topics, the need to identify and map the environmental impact of e-waste on Kenya, capacity constraints hindering the disposal of e-waste in Kenya and the collection system and recycling infrastructure of e-waste.

The meeting finalized guidelines on management of e-waste en route to an amendment to Kenya's waste laws and regulations in order to minimize the impacts and maximize the benefits of growing numbers of electronic products manufactured in Kenya or imported into the country.

E-waste consists of old electronic items such as computers, printers, mobile phones, refrigerators and televisions.

Increasing demand for electronic goods in Kenya and in the developing world means that levels of e-waste are growing fast and the hazardous substances such as heavy metals contained in most of these products are posing a serious risk to the environment and to human health.

However, e-waste also presents an economic opportunity through the recycling and refurbishing of discarded electronic goods and the harvesting of the precious metals they contain.

The forum stressed the need by all stakeholders to adopt t recommendations and guidelines on e-waste management and a review of the Kenyan government's own electronic waste disposal procedures.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Sony Pictures Entertainment Receives LEED Gold Certification For Culver City Lot Office Project

PR Newswire
08/30/10 - 01:09 PM EDT
CULVER CITY, Calif., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that it has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification for the studio's Lot and Office Transformation (LOT) Project by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LOT Project included the construction of two new 100,000 square foot office buildings, named after Jack Cohn and Harry Cohn, and a parking structure located at the heart of the studio's historic lot based in Culver City, California.



"We are proud to receive this designation for our newest buildings on the lot," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. "It's our belief that we have a responsibility to help create a greener world for our community and future generations, and this project is an important part of our overall sustainability efforts."

"We're excited to be recognized by such a respected international body," said Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures. "We're also gratified that the buildings and the park area between them have become a new 'center of gravity' for our lot, a place where employees and visitors come to eat, exercise and meet with one another in an atmosphere that can be both relaxed and refreshing."

The LEED Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for evaluating water, energy and atmosphere efficiency; material and resource selection and indoor environmental quality of sites for sustainability.

The Jack Cohn and Harry Cohn buildings, which were designed for Sony Pictures by Gensler Architecture with developer Georgetown Company and general contractor CW Driver, were recognized by USGBC for a number of factors related to their design and construction. Elements rated positively by USGBC include: the use of local and recycled building materials as well as diverting over 93 percent (16,128 tons) of construction waste material from landfills; the incorporation of onsite filtration system for storm water runoff and low-flow toilets and urinals; the use of low-emitting carpeting, paint, sealants, adhesives and wall coverings; the installation of motion detector lights and energy efficient light bulbs; the implementation of "Green Housekeeping" building maintenance standards; and the availability of preferred parking for low emitting and fuel efficient vehicles as well as car pools and van pools.

In addition, the LOT Project included the construction of a state of the art, highly efficient central cooling plant.

"Naturally, a project of this size and scope was undertaken with a great deal of thought and care," said Jeff Hargleroad, Executive Vice President, Corporate Operations. "We recognized early on this was a great opportunity to pursue design and construction practices that would map to our core values as a company; it became obvious that this was the right thing to do."

As the first and only studio to achieve ISO14001 certification (the international standard for managing an organizations impact on the environment), Sony Pictures Entertainment has had an established sustainability practice studio-wide since 2001.

Led by Lynton and Pascal, the studio's emphasis on the pursuit of environmental sustainability has taken on a new energy in the past two years. Goals announced in the fall of 2008 include a commitment to go "zero waste" on the studio's main lot. A composting program in partnership with the City of Culver City has helped move the company significantly forward to meet that goal. In addition to the LEED building project and other facilities and operations initiatives, the studio is pursuing sustainable practices across production, consumer products, employee programs and community outreach. For more information on SPE's sustainability efforts, visit:

About Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in more than 140 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at

SOURCE Sony Pictures Entertainment

Monday, August 30, 2010


This story appeared on Network World at

California files charges against e-waste recycler's execs

The company managers submitted false reimbursement requests to the state, the attorney general alleges

By Grant Gross, IDG News Service
August 26, 2010 11:04 AM ET
Sponsored by:

California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. has filed criminal charges against the owner and two managers of a San Jose electronic waste recycling firm, accusing them of submitting US$1 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims for more than 2 million pounds of waste they never recycled.

Two managers at Tung Tai Group were arrested last week, Brown announced late Wednesday. They are John Chen, 38, of Hillsborough, California, and Jason Huang, 65, of Foster City, California. They both posted bail, set at $1 million for each, Brown said in a news release.

Company owner Joseph Chen, 69, of Hillsborough, is in China, and Brown's office is making arrangements for him to return to the U.S. to face the charges, the release said.

"Tung Tai Group attempted to collect $1 million in fraudulent and fictitious state reimbursements for millions of pounds of electronic waste that didn't exist," Brown said in a statement. "This brazen scheme is a violation of state law and the public trust."

Tung Tai Group did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the charges.

The three men face 17 criminal counts for submitting false documents, attempting to defraud the state, forgery and hazardous waste storage and handling violations. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of nine years in prison.

E-waste recyclers in California break down television sets, computer monitors, laptops and other waste collected from businesses and households in California. Recyclers submit claims for reimbursement to the state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). On average, CalRecycle pays $0.43 per pound of material recycled.

In late 2008, CalRecycle auditors contacted investigators at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control after noticing discrepancies in the claims submitted by Tung Tai and the records kept by Golden State Records and Recycling, a company that collected and transferred materials to Tung Tai, Brown said in the release.

In July 2009, state agents searched the Tung Tai facility and discovered two separate sets of records, Brown said. Those records showed that Tung Tai had significantly inflated the pounds of recycled material it submitted for reimbursement to CalRecycle between January and September 2008, Brown's office said.

For example, one set of records showed that a collector delivered 62,000 pounds of material to Tung Tai, but forms submitted to CalRecycle for reimbursement listed nearly 555,000 pounds. That change increased Tung Tai's requested reimbursement from the state by more than $235,000, Brown's office said.

Tung Tai also submitted records to CalRecycle listing items that were never delivered to the company by any approved collector of electronic waste, Brown said.

The state did not make payments on inflated requests for reimbursement, which totaled $1 million, Brown said.

John Chen and Huang are scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Clara Superior Court on Sept. 9.


Dell Sets Packaging Bar High For Electronics Industry
by Amanda Wills
Published on August 25th, 2010
No Comments

Technological advances and stringent legislation have made 2010 a big year for the electronics industry.

But despite a high interest in e-waste exportation and the development of sleeker designs that allow for easier recycling, many manufacturers are still skipping over one important detail: packaging.

According to Dell's 2009 Corporate Responsibility report, the company's free consumer recycling program has collected 484 million pounds of equipment since 2006. Photo: Dell's Official Flickr Page
In 2008, Dell announced a plan to revolutionize computer packaging by using recycled content and cutting down on materials – a plan that was expected to result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and fuel usage related to transportation.

On Tuesday, the company announced that its fervent push towards that goal has proven substantial. Dell has eliminated the use of more than 18.2 million pounds of packaging material since 2008.

To put that into perspective, that’’s the same weight as 226 fully-loaded 18-wheelers or almost 4,184 small pick-ups.

Outlined in its recently released 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report, Dell has increased the amount of recycled content in its packaging by approximately 32 percent.

The company is now 94 percent of the way to achieving its stated goal of increasing recycled content in packaging by 40 percent by 2012.

As an added bonus, more than half (57 percent) of Dell’’s packaging materials can now be conveniently recycled by customers using their local curbside pick-up programs. The company is aiming for that number to be 75 percent by the end of 2012.

According to Oliver Campbell, senior manager of Global Packaging, Dell’s dramatic reduction started with simple changes that allowed for smaller cube packaging, such as putting fewer disks, catalogs, etc.

Dell also used engineering tools to run various “”what if”” scenarios. With these tools, Dell has optimized its Inspiron 15 laptop packaging so that 63 laptops fit on each shipping pallet, up from 54. More laptops on each pallet means more laptops fit into each vehicle, resulting in fewer shipping vehicles and less shipping-related environmental impact.

“•“Establishing these packaging goals has transformed my team from great packaging engineers to inspired environmental champions,”” says Campbell. “The progress we’’ve made has kept a lot of materials out of landfills, made responsible packaging disposal easier for customers and is making Dell a more environmentally responsible company.”

Earlier this year, Dell also released a new line of notebook computers made solely from bamboo as an alternative to plastic casing. This type of packaging can be placed in compost systems, and Dell used the resulting soil from its tests to grow cucumber and sunflower plants.

This isn’t the first time Dell has been ahead of the curve on manufacturer responsibility. ”In 2009, it became the first major computer manufacturer to formally ban the exporting of electronic waste to developing countries.

Currently, the U.S. has no federal law against sending e-waste to dealers overseas, despite existence of the widely accepted Basel Convention, an international treaty which controls the cross-border movement of hazardous waste. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition estimates that the U.S. exports enough e-waste each year to fill 5,126 shipping containers, which when stacked, would reach 8 miles high.


The e-waste land
August 26th, 2010
DC Correspondent
Buzz up!
Tags: e-waste generation, electronic devices, faulty hardware, Must-Read

City spews 30K tonnes of e-waste per annum
The IT revolution in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Chennai, has created an additional burden for the civic authorities. The e-waste generation in the city is on a rise due to the enhanced usage of computers and latest electronic devices and there is no proper scientific mechanism to treat e-waste.
A recent study by the city corporation revealed that Chennai generates about 14,000 tonnes of e-waste from faulty computers and hardware. For the fiscal 2008-09, the waste generated through compact disc (CDs) and tapes was estimated to be around 2,800 tonnes, while mobile phones generated a solid waste of 47 tonnes during this period.
It is approximately estimated that Chennai generates about 30,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. “The city corporation will soon identify a private firm to handle the e-waste generated from Chennai. The corporation council will discuss this issue shortly,” corporation commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said. Only a few private firms handle e-waste and they sell the parts that can be reused. In future, the civic body will also have an e-waste management policy, the commissioner added.
According to Ripon Buildings sources, the treatment of e-waste will be taken up on a scientific basis. The private firm will procure the e-waste from the corporation and after dismantling the electronic structures it can re-sell the products. Besides, some dismantled parts should be segregated and shredded before undergoing special treatment.
The special treatment will also include electromagnetic separation; Eddy current separation and density separation using water has also to be undertaken. The process has to be scientifically dealt with as the ferrous, non-ferrous metals and plastics have to be removed.
The civic body has engaged a private consultant for selection of a private developer for implementing e-waste management. The flourishing Chennai IT industrial belt is one of the electronic hubs of the country producing enormous amounts of e-waste and this waste has to be treated as per the ‘The Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2003’, the corporation sources added.
With no stringent rules to stop import and dumping of e-waste and municipal garbage in India from abroad, the country seems to be turning into an easy dump yard of rubbish from other countries. This poses a major health hazard to the people.


CEA enhances public private partnership for e-waste management
TUESDAY, 24 AUGUST 2010 00:00
Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is becoming a problem in Sri Lanka with the development and increasing per capita income of the country. Though e-items are playing a big role in our lives when it became waste it can cause many environmental as well as health problems. Therefore the Government and the private sector have taken several steps for e-waste management in the country.

A meeting on e-waste management in Sri Lanka and contribution of stakeholders in the subject was held at the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Battaramulla, last Thursday, 12 August 2008, with a view of streamlining of e-waste management in the country. The meeting was chaired by Minister of Environment Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. R. H. S. Samarathunge, the CEA Chairman Charitha Herath, and the Director General of CEA, Ramani Ellepola and some other semi government stakeholders attended the meeting. Mobile phone service providers, e-vendors and licence bearing (for e-waste handling/export) facilitators represented the private sector as stakeholders of the e-waste management in the country.

The Minister said that we both state sector and private sector should join together to manage e-waste properly in the country. He urged that the most practicable way of implementing such a programme is public -private partnership as practiced for the waste mobile phones and accessories collection programme with Dialog Axiata Plc, which is functioning today.

CEA Chairman proposed to enhance the said existing programme towards all mobile phone service providers to set up a heavy collection network with all respective outlets for them.

It was also proposed to form a steering committee with the participation of the public and private sectors for strengthening e-waste management in the country. It was decided to get all stakeholders together under a common logo and a theme for e-waste management, to develop an effective collecting mechanism for selected e items distributed among all outlets of every stakeholder company and to educate and make people aware on technical handling of e-waste and to handover them to collection centres. The CEA will coordinate and facilitate the mechanism in possible ways. It is expected to get the financial facilitation for the programme from the revenue collected through Environmental Conservation Levy.


Nigeria as Dumping Ground for E-waste

By Editorial Board

Nigeria as Dumping Ground for E-waste

Recently, Dr. Ngeri Benebo, Director
General of the National Environmental
Standards and Regulations
Enforcement Agency (NESREA) raised alarm over the health and environmental hazards posed by indiscriminate importation of used electrical/electronics by unscrupulous businessmen into the country. Benebo who spoke at the recently concluded National Conference on ICT and the Nigerian Environment in Lagos identified lack of legislation, weak global and regional response as well as absence of infrastructure for recycling as some of the challenges militating against e-waste control in Nigeria.

Sadly, as far back as February 2008, Greenpeace, a global environmental advocacy group, had in a statement declared that "Nigeria is one of many destinations for the developed world’s toxic e-waste." A flurry of activities designed to meet the damaging revelation head-on were initiated at the time. Benebo told a stakeholders meeting that the Federal Government had initiated a number of actions to combat the scourge of e-waste dumping in the country including the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on e-waste management to proffer lasting solutions to the problem.

Investigations by Greenpeace also revealed that the problem was traceable to the large influx of second hand electronic/electrical equipment into the country. Benebo then reportedly said "all imports of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEE) that qualify as WEE under the Basel Convention including those identified by the national definitions in Nigeria could be prohibited. Nigeria can impose additional requirements regarding age and packaging in order to ensure that the material sent into the country as second hand electrical/electronic goods are not hazardous wastes."

It is inexcusable that four years after the Basel Action Network, a pressure group that monitors the trade in hazardous waste, published a report which claimed that some 500 containers with 400,000 second-hand computers were unloaded every month in Lagos ports, the government has yet to establish sound legal and regulatory framework capable of putting a stop to the odious practice. Although Article 2(1) of the Basel Convention on the Control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal did not give a universal definition of waste by describing it as "substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law, Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia proffers a more detailed definition of e-waste as "all secondary computers, entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, and other items such as TVs and refrigerators, whether sold, donated, or discarded by their original owners."

Benebo is right in describing e-waste as an emerging hazardous waste issue in Africa with absence of national infrastructure to recycle the materials as well as legislation to regulate the sector. The proposed national policy on e-waste management should fill this gap for Nigeria. It should ensure that the incidence of dumping of e-waste from the developed countries is minimised to the barest minimum if not eradicated. Because millions of computers become obsolete in the developed world every year, the menace of hazardous waste to the African continent remains potent and real. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that worldwide, 20 million to 50 million tonnes of electronics are discarded each year. Less than 10 per cent gets recycled and half or more ends up overseas. As Western technology becomes cheaper and the latest machine comes to be regarded as a disposable fashion statement, this dumping will only intensify.

Successful implementation of the policy would, however, require the support of Nigerians because the ravishing poverty afflicting a vast majority of the citizenry means that most Nigerians cannot afford brand new products. More importantly, the requisite equipment that can aid detection must be procured while the officials who will be deployed to the borders are also given the necessary training. The world’s waterways are still filled with ships looking to unload toxic waste in vulnerable countries. The latest dimension to dumping of hazardous waste which consists of the dumping of unwanted mobile phones, computers and printers, which contain cadmium, lead, mercury and other poisons means that target countries must ensure that the dangerous wastes are not allowed on their territories.

The public should also be educated on the dangers of burning damaged or disused electronics because improper disposal of e-waste can release hazardous chemicals and heavy metals into the environment, making certain areas toxic.


Sri Lanka to reduce e-waste with private sector assistance

22 AUGUST 2010

By Bandula Sirimanna
Sri Lanka's Central Environmental Authority (CEA) is taking action to manage electronic waste with the assistance of the private sector as this would be a serious problem in the near future, a senior official said.

CEA Chairman Charitha Herath told the Business Times that increasing use of hi-tech products creates more electronic waste in the country leading to many health and environmental hazards. The CEA will launch island-wide e-waste management campaigns and programmes under a common theme and a logo. A committee comprising members of the stakeholder institutions will also be set up for planning the future programmes, Mr Herath said.

The Ministry of Environment is also devising a policy to reduce the creation of e-waste and prevent toxic components, he revealed. “Earlier we were thinking about establishing a dedicating recycling facility but then we understood that the Sri Lankan market is small and so it was not financially viable for the private sector to come in at this point of time," he said.

These decisions were taken at a stakeholder meeting on e-waste management held on August 12 at the CEA, chaired by the Minister of Environment. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa with the participation of the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Chairman CEA and the Director General of the CEA. At present some telecommunication companies have moved on with successful collection systems for used mobile phones while considerable amount of e-waste continues to be recycled in the informal sector.

Almost all of these processes are rudimentary in nature and could be dangerous and toxic. Some processes involve burning, breaking of CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)’s and other chemical and physical processes to recover materials. These result in release of toxic materials to the environment through emissions and effluents and there is also great potential to cause health impacts to the workers involved in these processes, Mr Herath said.

A recent study conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the CEA revealed that the penetration rate of mobile phones reached 40% in 2009 as against the penetration rate of 28% in 2008. According to the annual report of the Central Bank, 2009 usage of mobile phone reached up to 85% on subscriber base. Annual growth rate estimated for the other major e-items include: Personal Computers 8-10%, Printers 5-7%, Televisions 6-8%, Refrigerators 4-6%, Air-Conditioners 4-6%, Photocopy Machines 2-4%, Washing Machines 6-8% and Batteries 4-6%.

Mr Herat said “While there have been some initiatives to set policies and regulations for e-waste management, overall, these hazardous wastes are currently disposed of in a haphazard manner in roadside dump yards as well as in home gardens”. Under this set up the CEA will devise a policy to tackle this problem, he added


EXported e-waste seized by customs officials
PTI, Aug 20, 2010, 05.29pm IST

CHENNAI: More than 120 tonnes of e-waste imported from various countries by different companies in violation of Customs Act and hazardous waste management rules have been seized at the port.

The e-waste shipped here in eight containers were seized by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officials.

Of the total five consignments, one was from Australia, one from Canada, two from Korea and one from Brunei, a DRI release said.

The subsequent examination of the goods revealed that all the computer monitors, CPUs, processors were very old, used and appeared to be in unusable condition.

A large proportion of the computer monitors were found to be more than ten years old and clearly meant for recycling.

In one of the consignment imported from Brunei by a company it was found to contain 166 used old computer monitors, 89 control panels, electrical motor parts, printers and keyboards.

Cases have been registered against the importers for violations of provisions of the Customs Act 1962 read with hazardous waste (management, handling and transboundary movement) rules 2008.

These goods need to be re-exported back to the country of origin after due process of adjudication.

Read more: Imported e-waste seized by customs officials - Pollution - Environment - Home - The Times of India

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Sacramento Bee

California's pioneering e-waste program a model gone wrong


It seemed a perfect symmetry: California, the world's high-tech capital, would lead the way in recycling the debris of our digital revolution.

But five years after its launch, the state government-run electronic waste program stands out not as a model of the green innovation for which California is famous but as an example of good intentions gone awry.

By paying more than $320 million to collect and recycle computer monitors and televisions, the state has built a magnet for fraud totaling tens of millions of dollars, including illegal material smuggled in from out of state.

"I don't think anybody could have forecast the greed that has poisoned the program," said Bob Erie, chief executive officer of E-World Recyclers north of San Diego and once an enthusiastic supporter of the state effort.

None of the many states that followed California took on e-waste recycling as a government program; instead they made industry responsible for its own waste.

California officials have long been aware of the problems with their approach, too; they met with recycling industry officials two years ago at a private club in Los Angeles to discuss solutions, including whether the state should be in the e-waste business at all.

But nothing has changed. Instead, The Bee found:

• Recyclers and collectors have submitted $23 million in faulty and fraudulent e-waste claims that have been rejected by the state. But state and industry officials estimate that other ineligible claims, totaling as much as $30 million, may have inadvertently been paid.

• More than two dozen e-waste firms have been investigated for fraud by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control over the past two years, but none has been fined or prosecuted.

• Even though California officials know that illegal e-waste is flowing into the state – and acknowledge that public funds are being wasted recycling some of it – no state official has traveled out of state to investigate.

A new California Gold Rush

Truck after truck drops its load of electronic garbage at ECS Refining, one of the state's best-known e-waste recyclers based in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Until it is fed into two ear-piercing shredders, the pyramid of printers, fax machines, keyboards, CD players and telephones serves as a monument to our electronic obsession.

Not far away, some of the heaviest, most hazardous material also piles up: computer monitors and TVs – both of which contain significant amounts of lead. Each year Californians discard about 3.3 million of them, 9,200 a day on average.

Those larger items are the targets of California's e-waste recycling program, which began Jan. 1, 2005. Six million unwanted monitors and TVs that had no value on New Year's Eve turned into green gold overnight.

The goal of the law was to prevent lead-laden glass tubes from winding up in landfills while jump-starting a green industry to collect and recycle the castoffs. At that, it has been a resounding success.

So far some 840 million pounds of monitors and TVs, about 17 million units, have been recycled in California, far more than in any other state.

"It's easy to throw stones, but the hard numbers on what we've recycled as a state are astonishing," said John Shegerian, chief executive officer of Electronic Recyclers International.

His firm, based in Fresno, is the largest monitor and TV recycler in the state. But that distinction bears a footnote: The state has rejected $2.7 million of ERI's claims, mostly in 2008 and 2009, state records show.

"I am not happy about it. I am not proud of it," said Shegerian, blaming tougher state scrutiny of e-waste sources for the denials. "That was a black period. And financially it hurt."

California's electronic waste recycling system could be likened to a gigantic river. At the mouth of the waterway are some 60 recyclers who tear apart TVs and monitors for copper, steel, plastic and other components.

Upstream are more than 500 collectors, who funnel e-waste to recyclers. Farther upstream are handlers – scavengers and peddlers – who round up material to sell to the collectors.

Overseeing the flow are two agencies: CalRecycle, which scrutinizes claims and pays recyclers, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, which investigates fraud and environmental violations.

Funding it all are state consumers, through an $8 to $25 fee on the purchase of new monitors and televisions.

At the program's inception, with hundreds of millions of dollars in state payments up for grabs, companies seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"It was the second coming of the California Gold Rush," said Erie, the Southern California recycler. "They came from Texas. They came from Pennsylvania. They came from all over the place and said, 'Let's open up in California because the government's paying money.' "

That frenzy caught the state off guard. Faulty and fraudulent claims of $1.9 million the first year climbed to $6.8 million in 2008 and to $9.8 million last year; overall the state has rejected payment on 6.5 percent of all claims – $22.6 million out of $347 million.

Unknown is how many ineligible claims have escaped notice. "If you are going to hold me to a number, add probably another 10 percent for the stuff that got through," said Jeff Mahan, chief of the e-waste fraud unit at the toxic substances control department.

To qualify for payment, recyclers must document that monitors and TVs come from California. But the logbooks they give the state, with names and addresses of the original owners – provided by collectors and handlers who gathered the waste – frequently read like works of fiction.

There are bogus names, made-up addresses, dead people and Hollywood celebrities. And there is brazenness by the truckload.

"I would find Dustin Hoffman's name, Robin Williams' name, Mike Tyson's name. It's just incredible," Mahan said.

Here's what one state official wrote after spot-checking a 2009 claim from SIMS Recycling Solutions headquarters in Roseville seeking $482,000 for 1.2 million pounds of e-waste delivered to its Southern California plant:

"100% of the sources contacted stated they DND (did not discard) … The last names appear to have been looked up in some sort of alphabetical directory … . Patterns of falsehood are obvious in these logs."

That entire $482,000 claim was rejected. In all, the state has turned down $4.5 million in e-waste claims from SIMS, the most in the state.

SIMS has appealed the denials. But its president, Steve Skurnac, acknowledged that his firm should have screened names more carefully.

"The onus is on us to prove that it's qualified material," Skurnac added. "We understand that."

Other surprises emerged as the state learned about the scramble for e-waste on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco – and the sources of recyclers' paperwork.

As one claim reviewer wrote after checking with an L.A. handler who sold e-waste to SIMS last year: "Call to Issac with Cal-E. He stated almost all peddlers on logs are illegal aliens who cannot read or write. He reconstructs the logs from their pieces of paper (and) napkins."

Such discoveries, though, typically come months after monitors and televisions have been dismantled and recycled, leaving investigators with more questions than evidence.

"There is really no corpse to look at like with a murder," said Mahan, the e-waste fraud chief. "It's all paperwork."

Buried in the blizzard of payment claims and e-mails lurk enough twists and turns to fill a John Grisham novel – without the convenient conclusions. Chapters end abruptly, stories change, numbers don't add up, recollections collide and cases evaporate.

Shopping spree in Arizona

At midday, small stones along the streets of Tucson, Ariz., glitter like silver and platinum in the hot sun. In recent years, Los Angeles e-waste collector Global Comp One has been active here, buying up thousands of unwanted monitors as if they, too, were precious metals.
"We purchase in quantities of any volume," the company's owner, Allen Baker, wrote in an April 8, 2009, letter soliciting material from Rise Equipment Recycling Center. "I am in Arizona bi-weekly and would welcome an opportunity to meet with you."

A year earlier, state officials had noted that Global Comp One was delivering monitors to Electronics Recyclers in Fresno and ARC International in Los Angeles with paperwork riddled with "disconnected phone numbers, wrong numbers (and) wrong contact names," state records show.

They also had fielded a tip that the collector was buying monitors in Colorado and redeeming them in California.

Though they had documented no wrongdoing, their concern was based on simple economics. In Tucson, for example, computer monitors sell for a dollar apiece, sometimes less, while California recyclers offer e-waste collectors around $8 to $10 apiece.

The state of California, in turn, pays recyclers about $15 to $18, depending on weight, to recycle them – but only if the waste comes from California.

Jeff Hunts, manager of the e-waste payment system at CalRecycle, had forwarded the Colorado tip to Mahan, urging him to take action.

"We need a big win," Hunts wrote.

Mahan had started investigating, but he didn't get far. "All the addresses we had for him, he had moved," Mahan said. "I would certainly like to know where I can get ahold of Mr. Baker."

Baker was not hard to find. The Bee tracked him down by phone recently in Southern California, where he said the state's concerns are well-founded – just not about him.

"The system is fraught with fraud," he said.

Baker said he buys monitors across America to refurbish and sell to buyers in other countries for $3.50 to $12 each. He no longer participates in California's recycling program, he said, but when he did he never intentionally redeemed out-of-state material.

"I'm not saying it's not possible that, because we're doing business intrastate and interstate, that something might have gotten mixed at one time," he said. But the state, Baker said, checked him out and "we were clean … We run a very tight ship."

Mahan said Baker has not been cleared at all. "We still have a lot of interest in talking to him," he said.

Where did monitors go?

Other mysterious cases unfold uncomfortably close to home.
Last December, six piles of used monitors from state agencies sat on pallets in the warehouse near Arco Arena where the state auctions off its own electronic discards.

There were charcoal-black HPs, just 3 years old, milky-white View-Sonics, manufactured in 1997 and a real antique: a Packard Bell, vintage 1989.

No one wanted them – except Farrah Philip, a buyer for KYO Computer, a Bay Area recycler with a history of run-ins with the state, from violations of state environmental regulations to $400,000 in rejected e-waste claims.

But unlike Global Comp in Arizona, KYO paid a premium for the monitors at auction that day – about $14 apiece.

CalRecycle officials were not aware that KYO had attended the auction and, when informed of the price paid, they were mystified. How could KYO make a profit?

Eight days later, The Bee tracked the monitors back to KYO's warehouse in industrial Newark, in southern Alameda County, to see what was up. There, the trail went cold.

As trucks rumbled by outside, Philip insisted the purchase made sense. The state, she said, would pay her 39 cents a pound for the monitors to be recycled, at least $15 each. Even after paying another firm to process the glass, she could make money off the copper and plastic.

And because these monitors obviously were from California, there would be no challenge to her logbooks' veracity. "The state knows this came from them," she said.

Could we see the 108 monitors from Sacramento? That would not be possible, Philip said, because they had already been dismantled, their glass tubes shipped to the nearest glass recycler in Oregon.

In the wake of the auction, CalRecycle has launched an internal audit of KYO to scrutinize its e-waste. In such audits, one scenario the agency must rule out involves shipping working monitors overseas for resale, then backfilling those spots for state recycling reimbursement with out-of-state or other ineligible monitors.

Reached recently at her office, Philip said she was not aware of the audit. Asked again about the December auction purchase, her story changed. She said KYO did lose money on those monitors after all; she had bought them to keep workers busy while searching for cheaper units.

Philip declined to discuss details.

"This is secret, confidential," she said. "We cannot share (with) everybody."

Tough talk, no prosecutions

Recycling fraud was among many topics quietly debated in the summer of 2008, when state and industry officials met in Los Angeles to discuss the program's flaws.

"We need a bill to be introduced that will fix the e-waste program," say official notes of the meeting obtained by The Bee.

Ideas filled the room: better tracking, more transparency, tougher enforcement of fraud, stricter standards for collectors – and shifting the job of recycling to manufacturers.

"Producer responsibility makes more sense," the notes say. "You built it, you take care of it."

Two years later, not much has happened.

"The enforcement is there, but we could do better than what we are doing," said Gary Petersen, a former California Integrated Waste Board member who called the meeting. "There are bad people out there. We've got to make sure those guys get caught."

Mahan, who has tried to catch them for two years, said 26 investigations have been launched. Five were strong enough to forward to criminal investigators in his department; two have been referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the state attorney general's office.

To date, there have been no prosecutions, penalties or fines. But there is plenty of pent-up anger and finger-pointing.

"Clearly DTSC has not made this their priority," said one senior state e-waste official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Why are they not picking up these things and running with them?"

Mahan said part of the problem lies with his department's regulations, which are "geared to enforcing environmental violations, not financial things."

CalRecycle's Hunts counts himself among the frustrated.

"It's tough to get a DA or the AG interested in recycling crime," Hunts said. "It's not sexy. It's not going to get anybody re-elected."

Another case has been referred to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, according to one state official. But Ken Rosenblatt, a supervising district attorney for environmental protection in Santa Clara, refused to talk about it.

"I'm afraid I just don't have any information on that subject for you," Rosenblatt said.

In lieu of prosecutions, Hunts said the state's most effective strategy has been denying payments on bad claims – a process that has pushed some out of business.

But The Bee found that several companies docked for large volumes of suspect claims remain active.

That includes Tung Tai Group, a San Jose recycler that had 38 percent of its claims – $1.6 million in all – rejected over the past two years and is under investigation by the state.

John Chen, Tung Tai's executive vice president, said his firm fell victim to unscrupulous e-waste collectors: "A lot of it was not having proper logs – not fraudulent logs – and not understanding what our mistakes were."

Chen complained that the state took months to inform his company about problems and rejected many claims for minor paperwork infractions.

Overall, Chen said he believes CalRecycle is improperly denying millions of dollars of legitimate e-waste. Because recyclers pay for the waste months before the state rules on claims, they are the ones who suffer the financial consequences, he said.

Others feel too much attention is devoted to the provenance of e-waste, not enough to the importance of recycling.

Beyond basic ethical concerns, Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said out-of-state waste getting recycled in California is no big deal.

"Frankly I'm glad that there is a recycling opportunity for that waste so that hazardous material isn't getting illegally dumped," Murray said.

Recyclers with good track records, though, are unhappy with the lack of action against scofflaws. Paul Gao, president of California Electronic Asset Recovery, east of Sacramento, has had less than one half of one percent of his claims turned down since 2005.

"We try our best," Gao said. "Why can they not prosecute somebody?"

Part of the problem may lie in the DNA of California's e-waste recycling program, in particular its reliance on tedious after-the-fact verification, and its focus on documenting minute volumes of waste.

"Focusing on fraudulent activities like shipping truckloads of (monitors) in from other states is imperative to keeping our program honest," Gao said.

Instead, he said, the state often insists recyclers track down and produce documentation for just a few monitors at a time.

"The program could be run better," Gao said. "You have to catch these bad guys."

Monday, August 16, 2010


The Producers Guild of America just released, a database of environmentally-friendly products and services from vendors across the United States that is meant to diminish wasteful practices in film and TV production. Take a peek! There are valuable links and downloads

Friday, August 13, 2010


Sunday, August 8, 2010

EPA and Intel

EPA Announces Nation’s Top 50 Green Power Organizations

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named the 50 green power partners using the most renewable electricity. The Green Power Partnership’s top purchasers use more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1 million average American homes. Green Power helps to prevent emissions from conventional power sources that are linked to harmful air pollution and climate change.

The top 10 on the list are Intel Corporation, Kohl’s Department Stores, Whole Foods Market, City of Houston, Dell Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Cisco Systems, Inc., commonwealth of Pennsylvania, U.S. Air Force, and the city of Dallas.

Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no net increase to greenhouse gas emissions. Purchases of green power also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide.

Intel Corporation remains the partnership’s largest single purchaser of green power, using more than 1.4 billion kWh, equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 125,000 average American homes. Washington, D.C. (No. 14), TD Bank, N.A. (No. 15), the state of Illinois (No. 23), Pearson, Inc. (No. 27), Chicago Public Schools (No. 35), and Harris N.A. (No. 42), are all making first-time appearances on the national list. BD (No. 19), a global medical technology company, and the Port of Portland (No. 49), both rose in the rankings by nearly doubling their green power purchases. Nearly a quarter of the top 50 partners have increased their green power purchases since April.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with more than 1,200 partner organizations to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Overall, EPA’s green power partners are using more than 17 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to the CO2 emissions from electricity use of more than 1.5 million average American homes.

Friday, August 6, 2010



4 August 2010 Last updated at 08:04 ET
Europe breaking electronic waste export ban
By Aidan Lewis
BBC News, Rotterdam
Old televisions and computers containing hazardous substances are still being exported from Europe despite a ban aimed at stopping the trade, which poisons workers at makeshift recycling plants in Africa and Asia.
In Rotterdam a Dutch customs officer swings open a heavy metal door to reveal a pile of old televisions stacked tight within a shipping container.
Instead of proceeding to Ivory Coast, these goods will be impounded, checked and most likely sent back to Germany, from where they arrived.
This is the front line of the European effort to stop electronic and electrical equipment, consumed and discarded in ever greater quantities, from being dumped in the developing world.
It is a daunting task.
Rotterdam is Europe's busiest port, a hub for regional shipping. More than nine million six-metre (20ft) containers or their equivalent pass through each year.
Just one-third of those carrying goods for export are from the Netherlands, with most coming from the EU's other 26 states, including the UK and southern Europe.
Customs officials select suspect shipments through risk profiling, sorting through a list of indicators including the container's sender and its destination.
'One step behind'
But even though the Dutch have led the way in cracking down on illegal e-waste exports - the European Union banned the trade in the mid-1990s - only 3% or so of the containers in Rotterdam are checked. In an average week one shipment may be caught, which could mean several containers holding 800 monitors each.
An unknown number of containers slip through, or are directed to European ports with fewer controls.
"Risk profiles are always based on what happened before and you're actually often one step behind," says Carl Huijbregts of the Dutch environment ministry's inspectorate.
Because this is an illicit trade, there is little data on its scale. But interceptions in Europe and anecdotal evidence from destination states suggest it is flourishing.
"We have an extraordinary amount of illegal shipment along the coast in Europe", says Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German member of the European Parliament who is working to update EU law.
Traffickers trick the authorities by not labelling goods as electronics, by pretending they are for re-use, or by hiding them in the middle of a container.
The containers that get through are shipped to West Africa - most commonly Ghana and Nigeria - and to South Asian countries including India and Pakistan.
"The fundamental problem with electronics is that it's designed in a very bad way," says Kim Schoppink, a campaigner at the Dutch branch of Greenpeace who travelled to Ghana to look at the issue in 2008.
"That makes it very expensive to recycle in Europe and therefore it's dumped in developing countries."
The e-waste contains valuable metals, which are extracted at informal recycling sites.
But it also contains toxic heavy metals and hazardous chemicals that are handled by workers, some of them children.
"They take some copper and aluminium and the rest they burn," says Ms Schoppink.
"With this burning process a lot of toxic chemicals are released and these workers are exposed to that every day."
Concerns about industrial dumping in the developing world led to the 1989 Basel Convention on international movements of hazardous waste.
In 1994 the European Community adopted the convention, which bans the export of hazardous waste to anywhere outside the OECD grouping of mostly developed countries.
It is meant to complement EU rules encouraging the collection and recycling of e-waste within Europe according to fixed environmental standards.
But by the EU's own admission, its rules are only partially effective. Just one-third of e-waste is thought to be treated in line with the bloc's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.
'Fundamental issue'
The rest enters a "hidden flow" fed by offices, municipal waste collection points, and shops that take back goods under guarantee, and part of that flow is illegally exported.
"It really has become the crisis issue of the whole Basel Convention," says Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, pointing to the e-waste generated as people buy flat-screen TVs and switch to digital. "It is really the fundamental, number one issue."
He says the US, which has not ratified the Basel Convention, is "way behind" Europe on e-waste, and estimates that as much as 80% of American e-waste is exported, much of it to China through the port of Hong Kong.
In Europe, some countries have a better record than others in applying the directive and trying to stop illegal exports, with southern EU states lagging behind.
But even where officials try to enforce the rules, there are challenges. These include distinguishing between second-hand goods - which are legal to export - and e-waste, and the fact that collection and recycling targets are out of line with the growing amount of electronics generated.
"We have 27 European member states but there are more than 100 collection systems and every system has another weak spot," says Mr Huijbregts.
There are plenty of opportunities for the brokers involved in illegal e-waste trafficking to siphon off e-waste.
"You don't need a truck, you don't need a crane, you don't need a digger," says Mr Florenz. "You only need an office, some connections, and you have to know the regulations and the border and customs."
Alongside environmental damage in the developing world, Mr Florenz has an additional concern - that Europe is buying then losing large quantities of increasingly scarce raw materials contained in e-waste.
And the more these materials fall into the hands of illegal brokers, the tougher it is for companies like Sims Recycling Solutions, which processes much of the e-waste generated in the Netherlands.
There have been e-waste prosecutions in EU states, including the Netherlands and the UK. But observers are worried that they have not produced the kind of penalties that could serve as a deterrent.
"In some countries it can be 200 euros ($260; £165) which, if you look to the profits that they make, is nothing," says Nancy Isarin, an expert on waste shipment with the European environmental network Impel.
"Other countries might have higher fines, but they are never actually implemented."
Beyond tightening controls within the EU, campaigners point to the need to ensure second-hand electronics sent to developing countries for charity are disposed of correctly.
And they flag up broader challenges - getting electronics companies to design greener products and weaning consumers off their electronics habit.
"You have to do everything you can to enforce the laws you have in place and make people pay the costs of what they're doing," says Mr Puckett. "And that ultimately is a really good thing as it drives greener production."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Kenyan Situation

Africa Review|The East African|Daily Nation|NTV|NTV Uganda|Daily Monitor|The Citizen|N-Soko
August 4, 2010

Kenya comes face-to-face with ICT waste

The Ministry of Information and Communications has started campaigns to reduce dumping of used electronic goods.

By Paul Wafula

Posted Wednesday, August 4 2010 at 00:00
Kenya is courting an environmental disaster from increased electronic scrap (e-waste) unless it quickly sets up rules to curb importation of the products.

The International Telecommunication Union warns that the rate at which electronic waste is growing poses a danger unless manufacturers change direction or governments take a firm stand.

Locally, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has been pushing for measures to educate users on the dark side of ICT growth.

A 2008 study indicated that Kenya generated 3,000 tonnes of electronic waste from computers, monitors and printers in 2007.

Computer for Schools Kenya, an NGO, says e-waste grows at a rate of about four per cent in a year, which is three times higher than the general waste.

The transition to digital TV broadcasting is expected to compound the problem in Africa while concerns have been raised that donations of second-hand computers is pushing Kenya to the edge.

Kenya is at the verge of an ICT revolution that has seen mobile phones selling for as low as Sh1,000.

However, what is worrying environmentalists is where the old computers, mobile phones, and television sets are taken when new models replace them.

As it is, they end up in landfills or incinerators, meaning that toxic substances like lead, cadmium and mercury used in manufacturing contaminate land, water, and air.

E-waste containing toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled makes up five per cent of all municipal solid waste worldwide.

In the past 10 years, African governments have been preoccupied more with universal access to telecoms services without paying equal attention to the impact on the environment.

Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio told an ITU meeting that the short lifespan of mobile handsets and desire to keep up with the latest trendy handsets compound the problem.

According to Ms Judith Katona, the representative and counsellor of ITU, Kenya and the continent at large should not allow the growth of the ICT sector to be at the expense of the environment.

“The fruits of our high-tech revolution are pure poison if these products are improperly disposed of at the end of their useful life,” said Ms Katona.

Although there are environmental laws in Kenya that hold to account those generating toxic waste, and with the failure to comply with disposal standards carrying a penalty of Sh500,000 or a prison term of 18 months, Kenya continues to face environmental and health problems due to indiscriminate, unregulated and trade in electronic waste.

However, the government will find it difficult to fight e-waste at a time when it is striving to meet universal access policy objectives that encourage importation of electronic gadgets in the country.

“We are in the process of strengthening the type of approval function within our national regulatory bodies to bar the entry of sub-standard equipment into our markets,” said Mr Poghisio.

The fight against e-waste got another blow after the Finance minister ignored the Ministry of Information’s push for a ban on importation of used computers and encourage local computer assembling.

The ban plan has been strongly opposed by sector players, saying the government should come up with a long-term legal framework to address the issue.

However, the Information PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, says over the years a number of government incentives have led to dropping of prices of new computers which defeats the need to import used computers whose life span is shorter.

Compared to new computers, whose life span can go for up to eight years depending on use, the second hand versions can take only three years.

“The organisations shipping in used computers are actually being paid to get them out of source countries but are disguising themselves as donors assisting Kenyan schools,” said Dr Ndemo.

On the global scene, some manufacturers have begun to assume greater responsibility for what happens with their products after they become obsolete.

Dell, HP, and Gateway have programmes to collect old computer equipment. But this is yet to take root in Kenya.

The Basel Action Network, an American watchdog that has sought to curb the export of toxic electronic material from the United States, has set up a new certification and auditing programme for recyclers and companies that generate electronic refuse.

Urgent implementation

In addition to outlining safe domestic handling and disposal practices for old television sets, computers and other electronic equipment, the system would effectively ban participating recyclers from exporting toxic, non-functional electronic waste to developing nations.

For over three years now, policy makers have been toiling to craft an e-waste policy as pressure from environmental experts mounts for the Government to issue guidelines on dealing with this phenomenon.

Watchdogs are warning that only urgent implementation of laws and policies will cover Africa from being turned into a dumping ground for electronic goods manufacturers.