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VietNamNews

Electronic waste poses risk to Viet Nam's environment

Update: January, 13/2015 - 08:42
Workers extract lead from old batteries in Dong Mai Village, Hung Yen Province. The exponential growth of the IT industry in recent years is posing a significant risk to the environment, as the disposal of electronic equipment waste rapidly expands. — Photo dantri.com.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — The exponential growth of the information technology industry in recent years is posing a significant risk to the environment, as the disposal of electronic equipment waste rapidly expands.

Over the past five years, the industry has grown an average of 45.5 percent annually. Total revenue exceeded US$25.5 billion in 2012 alone, more than 94 percent of which came from electronic equipment and hardware.

According to the General Statistics Office, the number of personal computers adopted by each household nationwide reached 0.17 between 2004 and 2010, while the use of washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners and television sets jumped by 183 percent, 139 percent, 32 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Ha Noi is expected to discard 161,000 TVs, 97,000 PCs, 178,000 refrigerators, 136,000 washing machines and 97,000 air conditioners by 2020. HCM City, meanwhile, predicts even higher disposal rates, with 700,000 TVs, 290,000 PCs; 424,000 refrigerators, 339,000 washing machines and 330,000 air conditioners.

A recent survey conducted in Ha Noi and HCM City by an Asia-Pacific consortium of IT corporations and the University of Science and Technology's Institute for Environmental Science and Technology showed that between 81 and 100 percent of respondents would rather sell their second-hand electronic items to scrap-iron dealers or private electronic repair shops than donate them to e-waste treatment companies.

Disposed-of items are generally dismantled and usable parts repurposed, while the remaining components are usually burnt or dumped in landfills.

Only three out of 15 e-waste treatment facilities are performing at their expected capacity, handling an average of 9,000-11,000 tonnes per year. This is a far cry from the estimated 61,000 – 113,000 tonnes in need of treatment. High recycling costs and a lack of support from relevant agencies have been attributed to this gap. — VNS

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