February 23, 2024

An expert shared tips on how to properly dispose waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) during a lecture series with stakeholders at the Saint Louis University.

WEEE are large household appliances and information technology, telecommunications, and consumer equipment.

National Coordinator for Eco-waste Coalition Aileen Lucero said people should practice less consumerism; refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, re-purpose, or re-evaluate and organize electronics and donate old items when new ones are available.

She said there is a need to learn to repair broken electronics and rent electronic equipment when used only for a specific time.        

Lucero added educating others in the disposal of WEEE counts, referencing the “Laudato Si,” of Pope Francis which emphasized on the call for the people to re-use, recycle, and stay away from the throw-away culture to take care of our common home.         

Eco-waste Coalition is a non-profit body working for environmental health, zero waste and toxic free society, in coordination with the government, industry, civil society, health care sector, consumer movement and other stakeholders.

In 2016, there were 44.7 million metric tons of WEEE. In 2021, 52.2 million metric tons were generated globally documented for collection and recycling, Lucero said.

Of the number, 10 to 40 percent of WEEEs are treated properly according to approved standards.

Factors contributing to e-waste generation include global information sharing on the rise, rapid industrialization and urbanization in developing nations, cheaper digital products and services, cheaper multiple device ownership to build a digital ecosystem and data centers, conversion of analog to digital system, and rise of cloud computing.

Planned obsolescence or the process of becoming obsolete is a major concern as Filipinos are fond of leaving their old digital devices when news ones are introduced.

Lucero said from WEEE, there are persistent organic pollutants synthetic organic chemicals that stay in the environment and have adverse effects on human health and environment.

These could cause cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the nervous system, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system.

Hazardous chemicals in WEEE are lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, PBDE lead, and PBDE e-waste, which have adverse effects on health.

When WEEE is improperly handled, toxins such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers cause air and water pollution. Glass dust, lead, mercury, dioxins, cadmium, from plastic casings, heavy metals, and wires also release polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Lucero asked the students to prepare their e-wastes to be discarded during the first North Luzon e-waste facility in Bakakeng Central, Baguio City. – Julie G. Fianza