E-Waste, its Disposal & Environment - November 2016
Recently (September 6, 2016), a survey â€œWhat India Knows about E-Wasteâ€ was released by Toxics Link, a Delhi based non-profit body working on environmental issues. The survey polled 2030 respondents in five metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.
Here are the results:
1. 34%Â respondents said they were aware of the rules regarding e-waste;
2. 12%Â respondents had heard about the rules but did not know the details;
3. Only the 50% of the respondentsÂ knew whatÂ e-wasteÂ is;
4. 93%, 90% , 74%Â respondents in Kolkata, Delhi and ChennaiÂ did not know anything aboutÂ the legal framework and its provisions, while in Bengaluru 52% and in Mumbai 77%Â respondents were ignorant about the rules;
5. 61% of the respondents are ignorant about theÂ impact of improper disposalÂ of electrical and electronic equipment; 6. More than 50%Â consumers ( 63% in Delhi and 65% inÂ Kolkata)Â sell their e-waste to kabadi walas ( local scrap dealers)â€”a practice leading toÂ informalÂ recycling , causingÂ harmÂ to human health and environment.
It is obvious thatÂ there is a lack ofÂ awarenessÂ among people and users about e-waste management, thus resulting in poor e-waste management. What is E-Waste? The waste generated due toÂ discarded, obsolete , end of life electrical and electronicÂ equipmentsÂ is known asÂ e-waste. The computers, mobile phones, television sets, servers, music systems, refrigerators, air-conditioners, medical equipmentsÂ and their respective assemblies contribute to the e-waste in the country. Globally , 20 to 50 million tonnesÂ per annumÂ of e-waste is being generated, which is 5.0%Â of the municipal waste at global scale (UNEP Press Release ,2008). In India , the total e-wasteÂ generation is about 12.5 lakh tonnes per annum , which isÂ merely 2.5% of the global production , taking aÂ base of 40 million tonnesÂ e-waste generated per annum. Maharashtra (among the states) and Mumbai (among the metropolitanÂ cities) are leading in the e-waste generationÂ in India. E-waste has becomeÂ the fastest growing waste in the municipal waste stream. The US is leading in e-waste generation, followed by China, by 30 lakh tonnes and 23 lakh tonnesÂ respectively (Rajya Sabha,2010). In India , the growth rate of the mobile phones is 80%Â while that of PC, or personal computer, is 20% and TVÂ is 18%. By 2020, computer based E-Waste will increaseÂ 500% and mobile phone 1800% ,with respect toÂ 2007 (Tom Young , 2010).
The E-Waste received from different sources comprise the following:
1.Televisions and desktopsÂ : 68%
2.ServersÂ : 27%
3. Mobile PhonesÂ :1%
4.Import from developed countriesÂ :2%
The other equipments like refrigerators, air-conditioners, music systems, medical equipments , ovensÂ etc.Â also contribute in the e-waste generationÂ marginally as their life is more and their use is limited in the society. Present Status:
The informal recyclersÂ get the e-wasteÂ from local waste collectors at very cheap price and recover metalsÂ like aluminium , copper, iron and steel,Â lead and zincÂ by primitive methods and leave all hazardous metals like lead, cadmium , mercury etc. at the treating sites in the open , causing an explosion of pollutants into the environment. They generate heavy loads of pollutants in the atmosphere . They use open burning, acid leachingÂ for the recovery of metals , which are environment-unfriendly methods. These are detrimental to human health as the pollutants persist in the environment for years together.
In general, in e-wasted equipment, the metal constitutesÂ more than 60% , plastic 30% and hazardous pollutants 2.7%. It has been reported thatÂ among total metals , 75% areÂ heavy metalsÂ present in landfills where e-waste has been landfilled. The landfills are considered a good source of manureÂ and people are making use of it in vegetable growing. But this way,Â heavy metalsÂ get into human foodÂ chain easily and may causeÂ neurological and bone disorders. Such disorders may also come with ingestion and inhalation. Health hazards of constituents of e-waste are as follows:
1.Â Lead: Causes damage to nervous system , blood system and Kidney
2.Â Cadmium: Toxic effects , neural damage
3.Â Mercury: Damage to brain and respiratory system; Skin disorders
4.Â Chromium: Causes Bronchitis
5.Â Plastics: While burning , causes reproductive problems
6.Â Barium, Phosphorus: Damage to heart, liver and spleen; Muscle weakness
7.Â Copper: Stomach cramps, nausea, liver damage
8.Â Nickel: Asthma, allergy to skin
9.Â Lithium: Harms nursing babies
10.Â Beryllium: Lung cancer, Beryllium disease
( Ref: Status of E-Waste in India â€“A Review by Mahesh C Vats , Santosh K. Singh :IJIRSET, Volume 3, Issue 10, October , 2014) Present Rules:
In March 2016, the environment ministry notified E-Waste Management RulesÂ 2016 , replacing 2011Â Rules. The earlier e-waste (management and handling) rules were enforced from May 1, 2012.Â Under earlier rules, the responsibility of each stakeholder , i.e. , producer , collection centre , consumer or bulk consumer , dismantler and other stakeholders were explained .The e-waste storage was permitted for 180 days and furtherÂ storage would be offensiveÂ until permitted by the State Pollution Control Board concerned in unavoidable circumstances. The responsibility for disposal of all equipmentÂ produced under his controlÂ was shifted fromÂ municipality to OEM (Original Equipment manufacturer).
Under 2016 Rules, producers haveÂ Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and rules provide forÂ financial penalty forÂ damage caused to ecology and any third partyÂ due to improper management of e-waste. India has ratified the Basil Convention , prohibitingÂ trans-boundary movement of e-waste. But, the developed nations are despatching e-waste toÂ developing nationsÂ continuously in the name ofÂ recycling , charityÂ and second hand use.
The registered recyclers have toÂ comply with E-Waste management guidelinesÂ and adhere to the rulesÂ E-Waste (M and H) Rules , 2011. A fixed quantity of E-waste is being allotted to them. However, they are not getting it easilyÂ and always strive to get it from import channelsÂ so that their facility may be run at full load. The e-waste generated reporting process is not in place. The infrastructure cannot be created based on estimated quantity of e-waste. Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) for e-waste: The ESMÂ implementation has following challenges:
1. Extended Producer Responsibility has yet to be effectively implemented;
2. There is a lack of awareness among people;
3. No common e-wasteÂ disposal point or centre in towns and metros;
4. Formal e-waste collection, storage , treatmentÂ and disposal system is not yet in place. New infrastructure is needed. E-Waste is a serious threat to the human health and environmentÂ and needs our urgent attention. The producers, government and agencies responsible and NGOs will have to make joint efforts to educate consumersÂ about proper disposal of e-waste andÂ ensure that the e-wasteÂ is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Food Wastage & its impact on environment - October 2016
When we talk of food wastage, we have in mind the wastage of cooked food. But there is wastage of food all along the food supply chain. There is a wastage at the stage of production, post -harvest, storage, processing, distribution and finally at consumption stage. At global level, there is wastage of 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year. Total agricultural production for food and non-food uses is about 6 billion tonnes. United Nationâ€™s Food & Agriculture Organisationâ€™s â€˜Food Wastage Footprint : Impact on Natural Resourcesâ€™ is the first study to analyze the impacts ofÂ global food wastageÂ from an environmental perspective, looking specificallyÂ at its consequencesÂ for the climate, water, land use and biodiversity.
FAO study report saysÂ that 54% ofÂ the worldâ€™s food wastageÂ occurs duringÂ production, post-harvestÂ handlingÂ and storage, remaining 46% ofÂ wastage happensÂ in the Â processing, distribution and consumption Â stages. Thus farmers, traders, consumers and all citizens are all stakeholders in the reduction of food wastage. The direct economic losses due to food wastage are of the order of $750 billion every year. (This is the figure of 2007, as reported by FAO). This is equivalent to the GDP of Turkey or Switzerland. This is a low estimate since it mainly considers producer prices and not the value of end product.
But economic costs are not the only reason why we should reduce food wastage. Environmentally, food wastage is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of green house gases (GHG). As such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after the US and China. Food wastage contributes to the largest volume of material in landfills in the US and accounts for 21% of total waste system in that country. Methane emissions from landfills represent the largest source of GHG emissions from the entire waste sector, contributing around 700 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
In addition, there is water footprint related to food wastage. Globally, consumption of water resources ((both surface and ground) of food wastage is about 250 Km cube, which is equivalent to 3.6 times consumption of the USA for the same period. Besides environmental costs, there is a major moral imperative related to food wastage. While 870 million people go hungry every day, we cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go waste. This is criminal!
But what is happening to food wastage over time? In the US, food waste has increased by about 50% since 1974, and now accounts for nearly 40% of all food produced in the US. Across the supply chain, the loss is 1400 kilocalories per head per day. Food waste accounts for a quarter of the fresh water supply, and 300 million gallons of oil a year. In the times of water shortage and higher gas prices, that is a lot of wasted resources. One billion people could be fed for a year with the amount only the US wastes every year. This obviously indicates the need for stepping up efforts to prevent food wastage.Â Â
How to prevent food wastage?
In developing countries, significant post-harvest losses are a key problem, occurring as a result of financial and structural limitations in harvesting techniques, storage and transport infrastructure. Climatic conditions also add to food spoilage. In India, we need to pay more attention and devise policy measures to reduce food losses at these stages. In middle andÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
High-income regions, food wastage at the retail and consumer level accounts for 31-39% of the total wastage while in low-income regions, it is 4-16% of the total wastage. FAO report also says that the later a food product is lost or wasted along the food chain, the greater the environmental consequences, because the environmental costs incurred during processing, storage and transport and cooking must be added to the initial production costs.
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include target number 12.3 aims to halve food loss and waste by 2030. â€˜Think.Eat.Saveâ€™ campaign of UNEP, launched in 2014 in partnership with FAO, is a public awareness raising campaign to mobilise global action against food wastage and against its adverse impact on environment, economy and society. This campaign gives assistance to businesses, local authorities and governments for designing effective food wastage prevention programmes.
One way to prevent food wastage is through reuse. Where reuse is not possible, recycling and recovery should be pursued. Dumping food in landfills is a bad idea because food thrown in landfills is a large producer of methane, a particularly harmful Green House gas. Instead, recycling, anaerobic digestion, composting and incineration with energy recovery have significant advantage over dumping. In order for city and local governments to efficiently and effectively recycle food waste, it is essential to take actions at the household level to separate out food waste from the rest of the waste. Recycling schemes work out only when waste is properly sorted at the source. Suitable regulations in this regard need to be framed and judiciously used.
Rather than dumping waste in landfills, the use of anaerobic digestion to break it down into digestate is preferable to both composting and landfill disposal. It gives both fertilizer and biogas. When digestion is not possible, home composting represents the next best option. At the individual level, home composting can divert up to 150 Kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities. Incineration of food waste (with energy releasedÂ Â being recovered) is the option of last resort for preventing food waste from ending up in landfills.
Food wastage prevention programme has to be implemented and monitored both at the level of businesses and households. BusinessesÂ - both those operatingÂ within the food chain asÂ well as those operating outside the food chain (which haveÂ a large food print, like Cafeterias, for example) can conduct food waste auditsÂ to determineÂ how they can improveÂ their performance in controlling food wastage. Households can also conduct relatively simpler food waste audits.
Â Better awareness and sensitization in and among all participants in food chain is of great importance. For example, when farmers do not find a market for products, they leave them to rot in field. This needs to be changed. Families cook larger quantity of food than actually required. They should be more precise: how many persons will eat food on a particular day. Supermarkets sometimes downsize orders to producers at the last minute, leaving the producers with large quantities of unsalable products. Restaurants over stocking food by over-estimating demand; food-retailers displaying very large quantities of food, believing it to contribute to increased sale, is a wasteful practice and needs to be discontinued. When food item starts to approach the end of its shelf life, it is discarded, resulting in wastage .In short, food-retailing has to be environmentally-minded.
In a world where we have large population of starving, poor human beings, where we are suffering from the environmental challenges of pollution, lack of cleanliness, global warming and climate change, taking all possible steps at individual household level as well as at the level of local bodies and the state and central government is the need of the hour.
Deforestation & its impact on environment - September 2016
Â The clearing of forests continues at an alarming rate because land is being made available for residential, industrial and commercial purposes. Apart from urban sprawl, logging operations which provide us wood and paper products are alsoÂ Â responsible for felling a very large number of trees every year. Some deforestation is also caused by natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing which may prevent the growth of young trees.
Trees are also dying globally at a rate never seen before because of climate change. The trees are struggling to cope with the extreme weather and temperature variations associated with global warming. The major carbon sinks around the globe are disappearing, as a result. Along with deforestation, we have forest degradation also â€“a reduction in tree density from human or natural causes.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Impacts of Deforestation & Forest Degradation:
Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most important impact is the loss of habitat for millions of species. 70% of the Earth's land animals and plants live in forests and many of them cannot survive the deforestation. Up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct by the next quarter of the century due to deforestation. Soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, increase in global warming and climate imbalance are few of the effects of deforestation.
Deforestation also drives climate change. Loss of forests contributes between 12% and 17% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Trees absorb greenhouse gases. When forests are removed, greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere. This increases speed and severity of global warming. In addition, forest canopy blocks the sun's rays during the day and holds in heat at night. Removing trees leads to more extreme temperature swings that can be harmful to plants and animals. Further, forest soils quickly dry out if trees are felled. Many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts. Deforestation affects water cycle. Trees absorb ground water and release the same into the atmosphere during transpiration. When deforestation happens, the climate automatically changes to a drier one and also affects water table.Â Â Â
Data for India:
Â Forest cover analysis by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) using satellite data, defines forest as an area of more than one hectare and more than 10% tree canopy cover. The combination of remote sensing as well as GIS techniques with ground surveys can go a long way in the management of critical areas.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â India is one of the mega biodiversity nations and seventh largest in the world and second largest in Asia having an area of 328.72 million hectares (m ha). It has about 17,000 species of flowering plants and about 5400 endemic species.
In India, between 1951 and 1980, according to the Forest Survey of India (1987), over 26.20 lakh hectares of forest was converted for agricultural purposes all over India. Forest survey of India has been carrying out mapping of forest cover on a biennial basis. The current estimate of gross deforestation in India is 0.43% for 2009-2011, compared to global average of 0.6%.
Data for the world:
Since 1990, half the rain forests of the world have been destroyed.
1. Forests still cover about 30% of the world's land area. 2. An estimated 18 million acres of forests, of the size of country Panama are lost every year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
3. The world's rain forests could completely vanish in a 100 years at the current rate of deforestation, 4.20% of the world's oxygen is produced in the Amazon's forest.
Rate of Deforestation:
FRA (Forest Resources Assessment) says that while in 1990 forests made up 31.6% of the world's land areas or some 4128 million hectares, this has changed to 30.6% in 2015 or some 3999 million hectares. Meanwhile the annual rate of forest loss has slowed down from 0.18% in the early 1990s to 0.08% during the period 2010-2015. 93% of the world's forest area is natural forest while planted area currently accounts for 7% of the world's over-all forest area, having increased by over 110 million hectares since 1990. Thus, over the past 25 years, the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50% (FAO report dated September7, 2015).This is a positive sign and gives hope but more efforts are needed.Â Globally, natural forest area is decreasing and planted forest area is increasing. While most forests remain publicly owned, ownership by individuals and communities has increased. In all cases, FAO stresses the importance of sustainable forest management practices. The management of forests has improved dramatically over the last 25 years. This includes planning, knowledge sharing, legislation and policies.
FAO has estimated that total carbon emissions from forests decreased by more than 25%, between 2001 and 2015, mainly due to a slowdown in global deforestation rates.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The major driver of forest coverÂ changes in India areÂ shifting cultivationÂ along with encroachmentÂ for agricultural land, mining, quarrying, expansion of settlements, dam construction and illegal logging.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 provided protection to wild animals, birds, plants as well as their habitats and envisaged setting up of Protected Areas. The Forest Conservation Act aimed at lowering the rate of deforestation by controlling conversion of forest land to non-forestry purposes.
What needs to be done to stop deforestation and forest degradation?
1. Promote sustainable choices: Purchase recycled items like notebooks, paper, books, toilet paper and shopping bags. As companies use recycled materials as raw materials. This reduces the demand for new materials. Make efforts not to waste. 2. Reforestation: Encourage people to plant trees. In China, every able-bodied citizen between 11 and 60 years is responsible for planting 3 to 5 trees in a year or to do equal amount of work in other areas of forestry.
3. Tree care: When cutting down trees single out full-grown trees and spare the younger trees. For every single tree that is felled, make sure that two are planted in its place.
4. Change the politics: Crack down on corruption. Ensure the strict implementation of forest conservation rules. Illegal felling takes place because of corruption and also because of unsustainable forest management practices. This in turn can fuel organized crime and even armed-conflicts. Make laws to stop illegal wood products from entering our markets. Support treaties like CITES (Conservation of International Trade in Endangered Species) to protect forests and the endangered species that rely on forest habitats.
5The Power of the market place: Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) CertificationÂ Â for wood, wood products. In fact companies and corporations should hold their suppliers accountable for producing commodities like timber, palm oil, paper in a way that does not fuel deforestation. For the non-recycled products that they buy, they should ensure that any virgin fibre used is certified by a third party such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Even corporations like Nestle, McDonalds, and Kimberly â€“Clark have taken steps to stop deforestation.
6. Standing with indigenous peoples: When Indigenous Peoples' rights to traditional lands and self-determination are respected, forests stay standing. Often corporations and governments overlook or intentionally trample upon the rights of forest-dwellers.
7. Use alternative energy: In winters, use coal as alternative to charcoal and fire wood. This will prevent premature felling of trees. Ending deforestation is our best chance to conserve wildlife and defend the rights of forest communities.
8. Become an advocate for forestry and environment: Use your voice to speak for forest matters. Become an advocate of reforestation. Learn how you can spread the word. Raise funds with which to protect the forest land. When people join together and demand forest conservation, companies and governments listen.
9. Support conservation organizations: Donate your time, money or actions to organizations that run programmes focused on preservation of forests and forest habitats. Organizations like the World Wide Fund for nature, Greenpeace, Conservation International are some such organizations at international level.
10. Eat vegetarian meals as often as possible.
11. Go paperless.