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VietNamNews

Electronic wastes leave behind toxic headache

Update: September, 17/2012 - 10:40

 

A purchasing agent surveys a pile of electronic waste in the southern province of Binh Duong. Viet Nam lacks the capacity to deal with this form of toxic waste. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam has not paid appropriate attention to controlling the impact of electronic waste and treating toxic chemicals, environmental experts have said.

Trinh Van Tuyen, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Technology under the Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology, said that an electronic product could last for several years before it became electronic waste.

This kind of waste was totally different from domestic waste that could be burnt or buried easily. It includes metal dust, electric wire, broken electrical circuits and components.

"All electronic equipment contains toxic chemicals. A computer, for example, might have hundreds of different kinds of chemicals, including toxic ones such as lead and cadmium," he said.

"These chemicals will escape from electronic waste and cause harm to humans and the environment when they are handled, dismantled or recycled improperly," Tuyen said.

According to the University of Technology Institute of Science and Environment Technology, the total electronic waste in Viet Nam was about 1,630 tonnes per year, of which 1,370 tonnes, accounting for 84 per cent of the total, were discharged from the key economic zone of the northern region.

In the key economic zone of the southern region, where 254 tonnes of electronic waste were collected annually, the waste was estimated to increase by 15 per cent due to the increase of electronic enterprises. It was mainly collected in Dong Nai, HCM City, Binh Duong and Long An provinces.

Tran Minh Chi, Director of the Institute of Tropical Technology and Environmental Protection, said that lead, cadmium and mercury were among some substances commonly found in electronic equipment that underwent backward treatment processes. These might cause liver, kidney and skin diseases, bone softening and memory loss in humans.

However, Chi said, electronic waste could contain valuable metals. According to mining experts, a tonne of electronic waste could hold at least 150 grammes of gold, 100 kilogrammes of copper and three kilogrammes of silver.

"The waste can be a treasure and studies show that recycling it is possible," he said.

According to Tuyen, the treatment of electronic waste was not standardized. The waste was collected from factories, workshops and households, classified and dismantled parts and accessories for re-sale by simple tools and methods.

He said the Ministry of Science and Technology's regulations on banning the import of second-hand electronic products, which took effect early this month, would help eliminate foreign electronic waste.

Tuyen said that, "the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Industry and Trade are implementing two State-level projects on electronic waste treatment. These two projects would conduct chemical treatment, which separated chemicals from electronic waste for chemical collection."

The projects, which would undergo a trial period after getting approval, were expected to treat 50 tonnes of waste per day, he said. — VNS

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