Forse Nibiru esiste davvero: c'è un altro pianeta nel sistema solare
Sunday, April 19, 2015
E-WASTE APOCALYPSE 42 milioni di tonnellate di rifiuti elettronici
Un rapporto dell'Onu dà l'allarme sulla crescente valanga di "e-waste", i rifiuti elettronici: frigoriferi, lavapiatti o lavatrici, altri elettrodomestici, televisori, computer, telefonini, gettati via senza venire riciclati. Nel 2014 hanno sfiorato quota 42 milioni di tonnellate.
Un record senza precedenti: l'equivalente di 1 milione e 150 mila autocarri, riempiti fino all'orlo di elettro-spazzatura, che formerebbero una coda lunga 23 mila chilometri.
Di questo passo l'e-waste raggiungerà i 50 milioni di tonnellate l'anno nel 2018.
I danni all'ambiente sono gravissimi.
Nonostante gli appelli del palazzo di vetro, soltanto un sesto dei rifiuti elettronici vengono adeguatamente riciclati. E questo nonostante il fatto che, se venissero riciclati, sarebbe possibile recuperare materiali riutilizzabili per un valore di oltre 50 miliardi di dollari, incluse 300 tonnellate d'oro, pari all'11 per cento della produzione mondiale del prezioso metallo.
Sorprendentemente, la classifica dei paesi che causano la maggiore quantità di e-waste vede in testa alcune nazioni che in genere vengono elogiate per rispetto dell'ambiente e qualità della vita: al primo posto c'è infatti la Norvegia, seguita da Svizzera, Islanda, Danimarca, Gran Bretagna, Olanda, Svezia, Francia, Stati Uniti e Austria.
The ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2014′, compiled by UN’s think tank United Nations University (UNU), said at 32 per cent, the US and China produced the most e-waste overall in 2014.
India came in fifth, behind the US, China, Japan and Germany, the report said.
Most e-waste in the world in 2014 was generated in Asia at 16 Mt or 3.7 kg per inhabitant. The top three Asian nations with the highest e-waste generation in absolute quantities are China (6.0 Mt), Japan (2.2 Mt) and India (1.7 Mt).
The top per capita producers by far are the wealthy nations of northern and western Europe, the top five being Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and the UK.
The lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was generated in Africa (1.7 kg/inhabitant). The continent generated 1.9 Mt of e-waste in total.
In 2014, people worldwide discarded all but a small fraction of an estimated 41.8 Mt of electrical and electronic equipment — mostly end-of-life kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment like microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers.
The volume of e-waste is expected to rise by 21 per cent to 50 Mt in 2018, said the report, which details the location and composition of the world’s fast-growing e-waste problem.
While only 7 per cent of e-waste last year was made up of mobile phones, calculators, personal computers, printers, and small information technology equipment, almost 60 per cent was a mix of large and small equipment used in homes and businesses, such as vacuum cleaners, toasters, electric shavers, video cameras, washing machines, electric stoves, mobile phones, calculators, personal computers, and lamps.
The 41.8 Mt weight of last year’s e-waste is comparable to the distance from New York to Tokyo and back.
The Odaw River in Accra, Ghana is one of the most polluted in the world. Much of the waste comes from the Agbogbloshie e-waste landfill. Photo Credit: Bit Rot Project
In 2012, 50 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide, and with the proliferation of smartphones, smart watches and other tech gear, that number will only increase. United Nations officials estimate that the volume of e-waste generated worldwide is expected to climb by 33 percent by 2017 to 65 million tons.
Those cold, hard numbers say a lot, but sometimes the pictures say much more.
If unused electronic goods aren’t gathering dust in the garage, they are either recycled (about 30 percent of the time) or simply thrown away—out of sight, out of mind. But as you scroll through this post on your smartphone or computer, it’s important to remember that modern luxuries have a price.
While e-waste in the U.S. only makes up 2 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste stream, it’s a much more prevalent and devastating problem to less affluent countries, as demonstrated by these haunting images from Italian photographer Valentino Bellini’s ongoing Bit Rot Project.
“About 80 percent of the e-waste produced in developed countries (North America and Europe on the top of the list) is not disposed of in situ, but shipped, most of the time illegally, to developing countries on cargo ships, where it is illegally disposed of,” Bit Rot said.
A man rips up electronic equipment in his backyard in Yaocuowei, China. He lives by the town of Guiyu, home to thousands of businesses that process e-waste, causing devastating toxic pollution. Photo Credit: Bit Rot Project
As the latest products come along and desktop computers, MP3 players and landlines become obsolete, this gadget-driven fervor has generated mountains of toxic trash that poison people and the planet. (And it’s not just old Blackberrys and MacBooks, it’s everything from old refrigerators, televisions, toys and more.)
“Especially in countries like India, China and some African regions where the technology industry is growing fast,” Bit Rot said. “It is hazardous waste, containing dozens of substances dangerous to human health and the environment; it is hard to be sustainably disposed of and it needs a costly processing technique to make it recyclable.”
While illegal electronic waste dumping also occurs in the U.S., the appeal of sending e-waste overseas comes down to lower labor costs and fewer regulations. According to a 2013 United Nations report, China is “grappling with the reality of an estimated 20 percent annual rise in domestically generated e-waste combined with a role as one of the planet’s primary dumping grounds for global e-waste—a massive environmental, social and economic burden.”
The southeastern town of Guiyu, China is a major e-wastebasket. CNN reported that Guiyu workers burn or process tech gear with hydrochloric acid to recover valuable metals like copper and steel. In the process, it releases toxic heavy metals like lead, beryllium and cadmium into the environment. Hydrocarbon ashes have also polluted the air, water and soil.
Where does all this salvaged tech junk go? Well, back into many homes. “We sell this plastic to Foxconn,” a e-waste worker in Guiyu told CNN. As it turns out, Foxconn is a Taiwanese company that manufactures products for many global electronics companies such as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
“The commercialization process and the capitalistic valorization created a true ‘waste economy,'” Bit Rot observed. “This extends the logic behind profit and exploitation even to those scraps that it had produced, creating a never ending cycle that profits from its own death.”
We can change our nasty modern habits, but it’s very likely a long uphill battle. “Strengthening and enforcing insufficient international laws would thwart massive profits,” Bit Rot wrote soberly. “Disposing of a PC by sending it to a dumpster in Africa costs $2, while it would cost $20 to sustainably recycle it.”
So what can be done? The UN’s Step initiative is tackling the world’s behemoth e-waste crisis. The Obama administration also has “serious concerns about unsafe handling of used electronics, especially discarded electronics or e-waste, both domestically and overseas, that results in harm to human health and the environment,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia told U.S. News.
It also looks like Americans are becoming more conscious of their own e-waste footprint. Case in point, according to recent data from Recon Analytics, in 2014, the average American replaced their mobile phone every 26.5 months, a vast improvement from every 18 months in 2007.