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Challenges of E-Waste
The biggest problem with regard to e-waste management at the moment is the lack of proper laws in the country, experts say. The laws of solid waste management of 1996, 1997, and 2013 have mentioned that batteries used in electronic devices are very harmful for health and environment, experts further state. The data of KMC, 2005 also shows high e-waste, but besides throwing these materials into rivers, no other solution has been available so far.

"Electronic waste" or "E-Waste" may be defined as discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, television sets, and refrigerators. This includes used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal. Others are re-usables (working and repairable electronics) and secondary scrap (copper, steel, plastic, etc.) to be "commodities", and reserve the term "waste" for residue or material which is dumped by the buyer rather than recycled, including residue from reuse and recycling operations, because loads of surplus electronics are frequently commingled (good, recyclable, and non-recyclable), several public policy advocates apply the term "e-waste" broadly to all surplus electronics. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are considered one of the hardest types to recycle.

CRTs have relatively high concentration of lead and phosphors (not to be confused with phosphorus), both of which are necessary for the display. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes discarded CRT monitors in its category of "hazardous household waste"[4] but considers CRTs that have been set aside for testing to be commodities if they are not discarded, speculatively accumulated, or left unprotected from weather and other damage.

Rapid changes in technology, changes in media (tapes, software, MP3), falling prices, and planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast-growing surplus of electronic waste around the globe. Technical solutions are available, but in most cases, a legal framework, a collection, logistics, and other services need to be implemented before a technical solution can be applied.

Display units (CRT, LCD, LED monitors), processors (CPU, GPU, or APU chips), memory (DRAM or SRAM), and audio components have different useful lives. Processors are most frequently out-dated (by software no longer being optimized) and are more likely to become "e-waste" while display units are most often replaced while working without repair attempts, due to changes in wealthy nation appetites for new display technology. This problem could potentially be solved with modular smartphones or Phonebloks. These types of phones are more durable and have the technology to change certain parts of the phone making them more environmentally friendly.

E-Waste in Nepal

Some had stated that managing e-waste has lots of side effects... whichever method are available to depose e waste on internet has some side effects and they costly as well. Handling e-waste is big issue of these days.. but, I have some solutions for your questions about developing country like Nepal. The very first good solution is reuse and recycling. As e-waste are non biodegradable and cause harmful effects on environment due to their radioactive and other Heath affecting, polluting properties.. reuse is the method by which you can use many important e-waste again and again without spending money on new materials. Also, this will help you to save some economy of country like Nepal where you have to import everything from other countries.  Secondly, you can sell your electronic wastes to other countries which may need e-waste to build new technology and new electronics. Selling will also help to solve issues of e-waste and economy.

In the absence of relevant policies and supporting infrastructure, many developing countries are struggling to establish a resource-oriented waste management system. In countries like Nepal, where informal recycling practices are prevalent, the lack of understanding of the existing system hinders any advancement in this sector. We characterize the informal recycling chain in Kathmandu, where a workforce of more than 10,000 people handles the recyclable items in various waste streams, including electronic waste (e-waste). A field study, supported by key informant interviews, questionnaire surveys, and site observations was conducted to understand the local recycling sector, the lifecycle of electronic products, and the relevant stakeholders. E-waste is found to be an integral part of the existing solid waste management chain and, therefore, needs to be addressed collectively. We identify the challenges and opportunities towards building a sustainable system for managing e-waste, and offer propositions for a resource-oriented waste management system. This study can serve as a baseline for future research on informal waste recycling, e-waste in particular, in Nepal and similar developing economies that have not attracted a lot of attention until now.

The need for proper e-waste (electronic waste) management has increased in the country, more so in the capital, where almost every household has a set of mobile phone, radio, television, computer, and other electronic devices.

Damaged electronic devices require better handling and management because they have a far worse impact on the environment than other forms of solid waste.

According to a report published in July last year by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Nepal imports 250,000 TV sets and 300,000 computers every year which will add to the country’s e-waste within a decade. Nepal has also imported more short-lived electronic devices from foreign countries that cannot be disposed of easily.

Electronic devices such as computers contains 40 per cent steel, 20 per cent plastic, 13 per cent copper, 12 per cent batteries, 7 per cent aluminum and 1 per cent lamps. Some of the materials also contain gold, and other valuable metals that are reusable. Beside disposing and burning them, they can be reused again

The biggest problem with regard to e-waste management at the moment is the lack of proper laws in the country, experts say. The laws of solid waste management of 1996, 1997, and 2013 have mentioned that batteries used in electronic devices are very harmful for health and environment, experts further state. The data of KMC, 2005 also shows high e-waste, but besides throwing these materials into rivers, no other solution has been available so far.

However, thin plastic bags were announced illegal to use in the Kathmandu valley 2 years and 4 months before is not effective. So as all except of few shopping malls and interested people are using them as before.

Likewise, Used Lead Acid Batteries are considered hazardous. They are haphazardly disposed causing various toxic effects. Researchers say that there are 40,000 tons of batteries in Nepal and managing them is another challenge. The government budget of current fiscal year pays attention to this effect has been appreciated. 

(Source: various media, Wikipedia, news etc)     

By: Purna N Ranjitkar

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