Information Communications Technology (ICT) has over the past 15 years become mainstream. There are few areas ... The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution 7. ... is responsible for ensuring the
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eauc insight The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges
ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution Is ICT waste disposal becoming and issue at your institution? Are the disposal costs of your ICT equipment eating into your total budget for electronic equipment? Are you confused by the current “e-Waste” regulations and wonder how they apply to your institution? Information Communications Technology (ICT) has over the past 15 years become mainstream. There are few areas of daily life that do not involve the use of technology. Classrooms, lecture theatres and offices are equipped with computers, whiteboards, video conferencing equipment etc., each playing an important role not only in e-business and e-learning but also in the day-to-day running of educational institutions. ICT is used in administering payroll, e-mailing, scheduling timetables, processing admissions, and maintaining staff and student records as well as in e-learning. Although ICT use has become essential and brings clear benefits of administrative efficiency and increased effectiveness in teaching and research, it is accompanied by an environmental cost. This cost is increasing year-on-year as new technologies are continuously created. Educational institutions are eager to stay current so the demand for new equipment is constant. With each new piece of ICT equipment created another becomes dated or obsolete and must be disposed. As a result electrical and electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK with approximately 1.8 million tones of it being generated each year and e-Waste constituting approximately 8% of total municipal waste.
What is ICT Waste (or e-Waste)? E-Waste is the term used to describe almost all types of electrical and electronic waste. ICT or e-Waste includes TV’s, computers, printers, copiers, servers etc. It also includes white goods such as fridges, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, home entertainment and stereo systems, some electrical toys, toasters, kettles etc. E-Waste covers almost any household or business equipment with circuitry or electrical components with a power or battery supply. It also covers solar panels and wind-up mechanisms that generate electricity.
FHE ICT Waste (e-Waste) Categories of ICT equipment typically found in universities and colleges include telephones, mobile phones, AV equipment, imaging equipment, PCs, laptops, HPCs, servers and networks. In fact, research carried out in 2008 indicated the use of an
eauc insight: ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution
estimated 1,468,000 computers, 246,000 printers and 238,000 servers in the UK’s college and university sectors. While technology in education is necessary and will remain so, ICT equipment needs to be utilised more sustainably when being purchased, used and disposed. The manufacturing of ICT equipment is materials intensive. For example, the total weight of fossil fuels used to manufacture a single desktop PC weighs over 240 kgs, 10 times the weight of the computer itself. This is very high resource use:goods ratio compared to other goods such as an automobile or refrigerator, whose resource use:goods ratio is almost equal. Also, substantial quantities of chemicals and water are used. A single European PC with a 17” monitor weighs 20kgs. However, the PC’s and monitor’s life cycle will include the disposal of 37kgs of non hazardous waste and 0.7kgs of hazardous waste, almost double the weight of the end product.
www.eauc.org.uk The manufacture of the same PC and monitor requires an estimated 3,244 MJ of energy, 920L of process water and creates 193 kgs of greenhouse gas emissions. It also leads to the release of heavy metals, contributing to acid rain and other air, soil and water pollutants. However, e-Waste also contains valuable substances such as gold and copper. Recovering these metals from e-Waste has become a profitable business, resulting in the global trade of e-Waste. A new economic sector has been created in the trading, repairing and recovering of materials from redundant electronic devices. While it is a source of livelihood for the poor in developing countries, it often causes severe risks to humans and their local environment. Workers in this sector are often unaware of the risks associated with working in such poor conditions or that better working conditions even exist.
The WEEE Regulations The principal regulations that apply to the disposal of ICT equipment are the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. They came into effect in the UK in January 2007 and apply to any piece of electrical equipment with a voltage of up to 1,000 volts for alternating current or up to 1,500 volts for direct current. The WEEE regulations state that e-Waste is not to be disposed with general waste. This warning is usually indicated on the piece of equipment itself (and/or on its packaging) as a wheelie bin symbol with a superimposed X. If your institution creates or stores electronic waste, such as PCs, printers, monitoring equipment, TVs, phones etc., then the WEEE regulations apply to you. ICT waste or electronic waste cannot be disposed of with general waste and must instead be disposed of in designated ICT or WEEE waste receptacles where it is then collected and taken to be recycled. The WEEE Regulations aim to reduce the amount of electronic waste going to landfill and improve recovery and recycling rates. You will need to comply with the WEEE Regulations if you: use, manufacture, distribute, import, export, recycle, treat, dismantle, store, sell, rebrand or reduce waste from electrical or electronic equipment. It also applies to any organisation that generates or collects any electrical or electronic waste or operates a waste treatment facility. While universities and colleges typically do not, some larger institutions or trade colleges may have large electrical research and engineering departments that create a significant amount of electronic waste.
electrical and electronic equipment. The requirements apply to eight of the ten WEEE categories but mainly affect producers of electrical and electronic equipment. Up until July 2010, The UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Advisory Board (WAB) was in charge of overseeing the introduction of WEEE regulations. However, following the election of the new Coalition Government, the WAB has been disbanded. The responsibility of ensuring that institutions and businesses comply with the WEEE regulations now falls to the Environment Agency and local authorities. The disbandment of the WAB is likely to lead to an increase in the number of non-regulated e-Waste collectors in operation. It is therefore important that each institution’s waste manager checks with local authorities to ensure that their e-Waste carrier is licensed.
Storing e-Waste If you store e-Waste for recovery you must ensure it is stored securely so that it does not get damaged, preventing reuse or treatment. Use a storage site with an appropriate weatherproof covering and impermeable surfaces with a bund where appropriate to stop hazardous substances from escaping and comply with the conditions of your exemption (if any). It is worth noting that some waste electrical and electronic equipment is classified as hazardous or special waste if it contains:
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
• • • •
ozone depleting substances (ODS) (e.g. fridges and freezers) cadmium lead cathode ray tubes (CRTs), found in televisions and older computer monitors.
If your institution regularly disposes of WEEE that contains hazardous or special waste, you must make sure it is treated at an approved and authorized treatment facility. Information on your nearest waste site is available at the NetRegs website (see references) or from your local council.
The WEEE regulations also encourage the treatment, reuse, recovery and recycling of e-Waste. It also makes producers of e-Waste responsible for the environmental impact of their products and aims to improve the environmental performance of electronic and electrical equipment. Your environmental regulator will enforce the Producer Responsibility aspects of the WEEE regulations regarding collection, disposal and processing of e-Waste. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Regulations aim to minimize the use of certain hazardous materials in new
eauc insight: ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution
[email protected] If your institution bought electrical and electronic equipment before 13 August 2005 and there is no like-for-like replacement, your institution is responsible for ensuring the equipment is disposed of appropriately. You may be prosecuted if you fail to comply with the regulations.
ICT Waste (E-Waste) Disposal There are two principle methods of disposing of unwanted or obsolete ICT equipment: Recycling or Donation.
Recycling Recycling ICT waste typically involves contacting your local authority or waste carrier and requesting a designated waste receptacle into which all ICT waste (e-Waste) is disposed of. Alternatively you may have to purchase one from an independent supplier. Your institution’s ICT waste (e-Waste) is then removed and sent for recycling where the equipment is dismantled and its contents are removed and separated into different categories of metals. Categories of ICT waste include lead, cadmium, copper, plastics, rubber, etc. The metals are then reused for manufacture of other types of electronic equipment. While it is the responsibility of each institution
to be aware of their ICT or e-Waste carrier’s work practices, unfortunately much of the e-Waste is sent overseas and cannot continue to be monitored.
Donation Donations of unwanted ICT equipment are typically to a local primary school, youth centre or a non-profit organisation. The practice of sending ICT waste overseas to developing countries has increased. Inhabitants of developing countries often have limited access to ICT equipment so donating unwanted PCs benefits both parties. However, reports have shown that quite often confidential information is not properly deleted from computer hardware and personal details pertaining to the previous owner are copied and used in fraudulent transactions. Identity theft costs its victims millions of pounds each year in stolen money, police resources, legal costs and insurance claims. Another downside to overseas donations of ICT equipment is that equipment is often stripped and melted down under poor environmental, health and safety conditions. As a result workers suffer heavy metal poisoning, inhale toxic fumes and the remnants contaminate nearby air, soil and waterways.
Why should I try to reduce ICT waste (e-Waste) at my institution? ICT waste disposable costs your institution thousands of pounds each year not only in initial purchase costs but in collection and disposal costs. Reducing the number of pieces of ICT equipment in use at your institution will automatically reduce the volume of waste ICT being disposed or sent for recycling or donation. Less ICT waste will save you money and make your campus tidier.
What’s the best way of reducing ICT waste (e-Waste) at my institution? Reducing ICT waste or e-Waste at your institution starts with co-ordination between the Procurement or Finance Department, the Estates Department and the ICT Department. The Procurement Department is responsible for ensuring the best value is obtained by the university or college when purchasing new equipment (of any kind). Environmental issues are now being considered when issuing a tender for a product or service. Green Procurement is the process by which the environmental impacts of goods and services are considered when making a purchasing decision. It examines the longevity and overall environmental impact of goods and services and not just the practical application or price. Where ICT equipment is concerned, green procurement should ideally consider the manufacturers guarantee of the equipment, its ability to multitask, its energy use, its required subcomponents and accessories and finally its disposal requirements. By ensuring that sustainable procurement adheres to the above issues, ICT waste should be kept to a minimum as smaller, lighter, more compact multifunctional devices that last longer and consume less energy replace larger, heavier, more cumbersome, single functional devices that need replacing after shorter periods of time. In addition to monitoring the types of ICT equipment purchased and thus e-Waste created, the volume of ICT equipment purchased also needs to be monitored. Very often there is little or no co-ordination between the central purchasing departing (if one exists) and individual members of staff purchasing the same ICT equipment for teaching or research use. Quite often several pieces of the same ICT equipment are purchased and are underused when departments could share, thus reducing purchasing costs and e-Waste.
eauc insight: ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution
How exactly do I segregate ICT waste (e-Waste) at source? Segregation of ICT waste (e-Waste) is made simple by placing e-Waste only receptacles in offices, lecture halls or communal areas. Ensure cleaners, estates staff and ICT staff are aware that ICT waste is not to be mixed with general waste but instead disposed of in e-Waste receptacles. It is worth noting that colour co-ordinating all waste bins and skips helps in the process of segregating, collecting and disposal of all forms of waste.
How will reduced ICT waste (e-Waste) help my institution in other ways? Reducing ICT waste means improving your institutions overall environmental performance. Improved “green” credentials increase your institution’s chances of receiving funding, attracting new applicants and employees and reduces your overall environmental footprint.
For further information about ICT waste (e-Waste) issues, please refer to the following links http://www.Netregs.com http://www.rohs.gov.uk/ http://www.step-initiative.org/initiative/what-is-e-waste.php http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/prog+rammerelated/2009/sustainableictoverview.aspx http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/nav/page1764.aspx Widmer, R. et al., (2005) “Global Perspectives on e-Waste”, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 25(5): 436-458.
All information is correct at time of publication - September 2011.
Disclaimer: The information presented here provides an overview of legislation relevant to the management of Carbon Reduction Commitment. It does not constitute professional legal advice and in all cases where you intend to give an opinion or act on the content expressed here you should first obtain such advice.
eauc insight: ICT (or e-Waste) at your institution