What are they? Why is it necessary to recycle? Laws and regulations? (Part 1)
In today’s digital age, we are witnessing an impressive technological revolution. From smartphones to tablets, from smart home appliances to advanced work tools – They all mark human progress in creating outstanding products. However, what happens to these devices once they have reached the end of their life cycle? The answer lies hidden behind a little-noticed aspect: Electronic waste.
Join us at Thang Long Metal Co., Ltd. to explore the complex world of electronic waste – A convergence between progress and environmental responsibility, researching the pros and cons of electrical waste death.
I. Introduction to electronic waste:
Electronic waste, sometimes also called “waste electronics”, is a special type of waste created from electronic products that are no longer usable. This includes everything from old phones, cell phones, broken computers, to home appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and many more. And when the waste from those discarded equipment is dispersed outside, it will cause serious environmental pollution, adversely affecting human health, especially workers working in the field of waste disposal. Informal waste will be directly affected by toxic gases and waste caused by electronic waste.
According to the United Nations’ “Global E-Waste Monitoring 2020” report published in July 2020, it showed that in 2019 there was a total of 53.6 million tons of e-waste, an estimated increase of about 25 million tons. % compared to 2014 is about 42 million tons. The countries with the highest amount of electronic waste are China (10.1 million tons), the US (6.9 million tons) and India (3.2 million tons), all three accounting for 38% of the total. Global. According to the above report, the average amount of electronic waste per person worldwide is 7.3kg/person (including children). Europe ranks first with 16.2kg/person, followed by Oceania with 16.1kg/person and America with 13.3kg/person. Asia and Chau Phu are much lower, 5.6kg/person and 2.5kg/person respectively.
Looking at the above data, we know that the status of e-waste is gradually increasing and it is predicted that the global economy will generate about 74 million tons of e-waste annually from 2030. This will make electronic waste the fastest growing waste stream in the world as human demand for electronics increases but their life cycle is short. Therefore, electronic waste management needs to become a top priority. To cope with this rapid increase in waste, it is necessary to take measures such as promoting reuse and recycling of electronic products, encouraging consumers to shop responsibly and wisely, and promote the development of the electronics recycling industry. Furthermore, there is a need to create strict policies and regulations to control the disposal of e-waste and ensure the safety of those working in the waste processing industry.
In addition, the creation of electronic products that have a longer lifespan and are easy to repair should also be encouraged, helping to reduce the amount of electronic waste. International cooperation and creation of educational programs on e-waste management are also an important part of minimizing its negative impact on the environment and human health.
II. Risks and impacts of electronic waste
Common types of electronic waste today:
+ Household appliances (Electric stove, heater…)
+ Communication and information technology devices (Mobile/smart phones, desktop computers, laptops, circuit boards, hard drives, plugs, batteries…)
+ Entertainment equipment (DVD player, TV, video game system…)
+ Electronic gadgets (Massage chairs, treadmills, remote controls…)
+ Office machines, medical equipment (Photocopiers, fax machines, defibrillators, dialysis machines…)
Under its convenient and modern appearance, electronic waste hides many challenges related to the environment and human health that we cannot ignore because they themselves contain more than 1,000 toxic substances, for example. lead, mercury, nickel, brominated flame retardants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)…, mostly in batteries, accumulators, plugs… It is estimated that each year up to 50 tons of mercury go into devices. electronics such as television screens, energy-saving light bulbs, etc., hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 from equipment such as refrigerators and old air conditioners account for about 0.3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and large amounts of lead come from from batteries and accumulators. Substances such as mercury can damage the brain and impair children’s cognitive development, increased CO2 will cause a greenhouse effect causing global temperatures to increase, and lead will also seriously affect children’s health. human.
If exposed to them for a long time, it will directly affect the health of informal workers working in the field of e-waste recycling, including pregnant women, children, young people and teenagers. The most recent estimates of the total number of informal waste workers worldwide range from 2.9 to 12.9 million women, including women of childbearing age. There is a potential risk of exposure to toxic residues, causing lifelong negative consequences for the health and development of the fetus.
Once a peaceful fishing village, but in the past 7 years, the town of Agbogbloshie (Ghana) has become the largest electronic waste dump in the world, considered the “end point” of the flow of untreated electronic waste in the provinces. Large countries such as the US, UK, Germany, France… On average, every day there are about 500 RTĐT containers imported into Tama seaport labeled “gifts”, but in fact many of them are only handled superficially. , even buried, causing environmental pollution and directly affecting human health. Many chicken eggs around Agbogbloshie are contaminated at an alarming rate. When eating an egg here, a child will likely consume 220 times more dioxin than recommended by the European Food Safety Authority. Therefore, improper management of RT will be a growing threat, creating a burden for the health sector.
III. Regulations and laws on electronic waste in Vietnam
Currently, there is no country in the world that has laws specifically regulating how to handle electronic waste, but European Union countries have directives regulating how to manage electrical equipment products, electronics is Weee certified to go along with the RoHS directive. Weee offers collection, recycling and restoration advice for all types of electrical and electronic equipment. The rate is a minimum of 4kg/person/year recovered for recycling (as of 2009).
However, only 17% of the above electronic waste is recycled worldwide, the rest will be sent to landfills, incinerated or left there without being able to be processed and shipped to other countries. other, causing serious harm to waste recyclers, polluting the air and water sources. The figure of 17% recycled is a low and sad number as technology is increasingly developing but we still cannot do anything to keep the level of environmental protection within the safe threshold.
In Vietnam, up to now, the field of electronic waste management still does not have a specific legal framework, but still relies on general regulations on solid waste and hazardous waste. Activities related to electronic waste in cities have not yet really involved manufacturers and distributors. The application of sanctions, especially financial measures, is not yet fully formed. The majority of e-waste collection, transportation, and storage facilities still operate without licenses, often located outside the industrial sector or on a small scale.
Even in big cities, interest in e-waste recycling is still limited. Currently, waste recycling activities mainly focus on recycling products such as drums and oil residue, and are not related to electronic waste. Some stores that sell used electronics even recycle only by sorting and separating usable parts. Then, these parts are consumed in the domestic market for people with lower living standards or exported to the Chinese market. As for the parts that cannot be reused, they are often thrown away with normal household waste.
According to Ms. Mai Thi Thu Hang, Vietnam Recycling Project Management Representative, the current difficulty is that people are not aware of the harmful effects of electronic waste and do not know about the electrical waste collection network. death for free.
According to the assessment of Prof. Dr. Dang Thi Kim Chi, Vice President of the Vietnam Association for the Protection of Nature and Environment, recycling of electronic waste in Vietnam currently only stops at the stage of dismantling, classifying, and separating plastic. , copper, aluminum… manually. Electronic waste in Vietnam is still mainly collected by junk “forces”, bottle/scrap facilities or electronics repair and purchase shops. Therefore, if manufacturers and importers have not yet participated enthusiastically, made positive moves and made official announcements that they will regularly receive old batteries and electronic waste from the community, then minimizing The harmful effects of electronic waste in general and batteries in particular on the environment will not be effective.
In recent years, Vietnam has also paid attention to the issue of collecting and processing electronic waste. From a legal perspective, since 2015, the Prime Minister has issued Decision No. 16/2015/QD-TTg regulating the recall and treatment of discarded products, the recall and treatment of discarded products, clearly stipulates the responsibility of manufacturers to organize the recall of discarded products sold in the Vietnamese market, through recall points, then processed or exported abroad for processing.
Then in 2017, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued Circular No. 34/2017/TT-BTNMT detailing Clause 13, Article 5 and Clause 1, Article 9 of Decision No. 16/2015/QD-TTg . Accordingly, manufacturers must organize the recall of discarded products they have sold in the Vietnamese market, and set up a point or system of points to recall discarded products, but the efficiency is not high.
Currently, according to the provisions of Article 54, Clause 1 of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, organizations and individuals with a role in the production or import of recyclable products and packaging must comply with the following regulations: Mandatory regulations on implementation of recycling at prescribed rates and standards. Clause 2 of Article 154 of the Law stipulates that organizations and individuals within the scope of application can choose to carry out recycling responsibilities in one of the following two forms: Organizing recycling of products and packaging; or Make a financial contribution to the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund to support the recycling of products and packaging.
In addition, Decree No. 08/2022/ND-CP also regulates the level of financial contributions to the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund. Accordingly, financial contributions to the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund for each type of product and packaging are determined based on Fs (reasonable and valid recycling cost norms for a unit of product volume). and packaging, including costs such as sorting, collection, transportation, and recycling of products and packaging, along with administrative costs to support manufacturers’ implementation of their recycling responsibilities and importer). Currently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is developing a draft Decision of the Prime Minister on promulgating Fs.
According to statistics, the whole country currently has only about 68 companies licensed to process electronic waste with a capacity of 0.25 – 30 tons/day, but most of them just stop focusing on dismantling and demolishing. . Among them, there are only a few companies with enough technology lines licensed to process electronic circuit boards. In addition, some businesses that treat hazardous waste mostly use simple technology for treatment, with very low recycling rates. In particular, businesses that directly produce electronic devices do not really care about recalling products after use.
(To be continued in part 2)
Source: compiled by Thang Long
THANG LONG METALLURGY COMPANY LIMITED
Factory address: Lot K3-K4 Minh Hung Industrial Park – Korea Minh Hung Ward, Chon Thanh Town, Binh Phuoc Province
Representative office: No. 200 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Thuan Tay Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City