Management of E-Wastes

E-Waste Management Process

It is estimated that 75% of electronic items are stored due to uncertainty of how to manage it. These electronic junks lie unattended in houses, offices, warehouses etc. and normally mixed with household wastes, which are finally disposed off at landfills. This necessitates implementable management measures. 

Effects of E-Waste

Front panel of CRTs



Short term exposure causes:

Muscle weakness;

Damage to heart, liver and spleen.




Short term exposure causes:

Carcinogenic (lung cancer)

Inhalation of fumes and dust. Causes chronic beryllium

disease or beryllicosis.

Skin diseases such as warts.

Management Process of E-Wastes

In industries management of e-waste should begin at the point of generation. This can be done by waste minimization techniques and by sustainable product design. Waste minimization in industries involves adopting:
  • inventory management,
  • production-process modification,
  • volume reduction,
  • Recovery and reuse.

Inventory management

Proper control over the materials used in the manufacturing process is an important way to reduce waste generation (Freeman, 1989). By reducing both the quantity of hazardous Materials used in the process and the amount of excess raw materials in stock, the quantity of waste generated can be reduced. This can be done in two ways i.e. establishing material-purchase review and control procedures and inventory tracking system.

Another inventory management procedure for waste reduction is to ensure that only the needed quantity of a material is ordered. This will require the establishment of a strict inventory tracking system. Purchase procedures must be implemented which ensure that materials are ordered only on an as-needed basis and that only the amount needed for a specific period of time is ordered.

Production-process modification

Changes can be made in the production process, which will reduce waste generation. This reduction can be accomplished by changing the materials used to make the product or by the more efficient use of input materials in the production process or both. Potential waste minimization techniques can be broken down into three categories: 
  1. Improved operating and maintenance procedures,
  2. Material change and
  3. Process-equipment modification.

Volume reduction

Volume reduction includes those techniques that remove the hazardous portion of a waste from a non-hazardous portion. These techniques are usually to reduce the volume, and thus the cost of disposing of a waste material. 

The techniques that can be used to reduce waste-stream volume can be divided into 2 general categories: source segregation and waste concentration.

Segregation of wastes is in many cases a simple and economical technique for waste reduction. Wastes containing different types of metals can be treated separately so that the metal value in the sludge can be recovered. 

Concentration of a waste stream may increase the likelihood that the material can be recycled or reused. Methods include gravity and vacuum filtration, ultra filtration, reverse osmosis, freeze vaporization etc.

For example, an electronic component manufacturer can use compaction equipments to reduce volume of waste cathode ray-tube.

Recovery and reuse

This technique could eliminate waste disposal costs, reduce raw material costs and provide income from a salable waste. Waste can be recovered on-site, or at an off-site recovery facility, or through inter industry exchange. A number of physical and chemical techniques are available to reclaim a waste material such as reverse osmosis, electrolysis, condensation, electrolytic recovery, filtration, centrifugation etc. For example, a printed-circuit board manufacturer can use electrolytic recovery to reclaim metals from copper and tin-lead plating bath.

However recycling of hazardous products has little environmental benefit if it simply moves the hazards into secondary products that eventually have to be disposed of. Unless the goal is to redesign the product to use nonhazardous materials, such recycling is a false solution.

Sustainable product design

Minimization of hazardous wastes should be at product design stage itself keeping in mind the following factors - 

Rethink the product design

Efforts should be made to design a product with fewer amounts of hazardous materials. For example, the efforts to reduce material use are reflected in some new computer designs that are flatter, lighter and more integrated. Other companies propose centralized networks similar to the telephone system.

Use of renewable materials and energy

Bio-based plastics are plastics made with plant-based chemicals or plant-produced polymers rather than from petrochemicals. Biobased toners, glues and inks are used more frequently. Solar computers also exist but they are currently very expensive.

Use of non-renewable materials that are safer

Because many of the materials used are non-renewable, designers could ensure the product is built for re-use, repair and/or upgradeability. Some computer manufacturers such as Dell and Gateway lease out their products thereby ensuring they get them back to further upgrade and lease out again.


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  2. Thank you sharing this article. This article is an informative and timely read. With the increasing use of electronic devices, the proper disposal of e-wastes is crucial for environmental sustainability. The article provides insights into the challenges and solutions for managing e-wastes, emphasizing the need for responsible disposal and recycling practices. inventory warehouse management

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