E-waste issues and measures in the Philippines
The continuous dependence on electronic equipment at home and in the workplace has given rise to a new environmental challenge: electronic waste. Electronic waste, or e-waste, refers to electronic products that no longer satisfy the needs of the initial purchaser. These can include a wide variety of goods, such as computers, cellular phones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and video cameras. These pieces of equipment contain hazardous materials such as lead, beryllium, mercury, cadmium, and chromium that pose both an occupational and environmental health threat. Although electronic equipment is considered safe during use, the potential for release of the toxic constituents increases during storage or disposal. Because of the growing number of discarded electronic devices resulting from rapid product obsolescence, this type of waste is an emerging concern among developing countries. This study estimates the current and future quantity of e-waste in the Philippines, with a focus on televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and radios. Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) serve as the input to a simple end-of-life model for each type of electronic device. Mathematical equations are derived incorporating other factors, such as the number of electronic devices in use, current end-of-life management practices, serviceable years of the product, and disposal behavior of consumers. An accurate estimation of e-waste generation would be useful in policy making as well as in designing an effective management scheme to avoid the potential threats of health impacts or environmental pollution. Preliminary estimates show that at the end of 2005, approximately 2.7 million units became obsolete and about 1.8 million units required landfilling. Over a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005, approximately 25 million units became obsolete. An additional 14 million units are projected to become obsolete in the next 5 years.