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THE IMPACT OF MANAGING ELECTRONIC WASTE TO ENSURE GREEN COMPUTING
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THE IMPACT OF MANAGING ELECTRONIC WASTE TO ENSURE GREEN COMPUTING
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The phenomenal growth in the number of electronic devices in use has given rise to a huge increase in the volume of electronic waste (e-waste) generated. Electronic waste is comprised of toxic materials and chemicals, and if it is not disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner, cannot ensure green computing.
The perceived limited knowledge about the harmful effects of e-waste and the potential economic benefit of green computing in Nigeria motivated this study. The study area consisted of two large commercial areas in Abuja, ; namely, the Wuse Industrial Complex and the Kubwa Market . A total of 313 organisations are located within the study area, which is spread over approximately 550 hectares.
Based on the findings of the study, it is estimated that the Wuse Industrial Complex and the Kubwa Market would generate approximately 593 tons of e-waste between the period 2015 and 2020, averaging approximately 119 tons per year. Although Nigeria is classified as a developing country, it is the most developed country in Africa, and if one were to extrapolate the potential volume of e-waste generated for five years from the study area to the rest of
Abuja’s commercial areas, then in five years, the province’s commercial areas would generate approximately 3 340 tons of e-waste.
The study also revealed that there is no effective e-waste management strategy in place within the Wuse Market or the Kubwa Market . A positive finding of the study was that the majority of the organisations surveyed were in favour of a proper e-waste management strategy at both the study sites, and would support the development of an green computing plant in this commercial zone.
1.1 Background to the study
The growing number of electronic devices in use today has given rise to a major environmental problem in the form of electronic waste. According to the Indian Institute of Technology (2009), electronic waste, commonly referred to as ewaste, can come from a number of electrical sources. Brambila (2010) reports that electronic waste is generated because of electronic equipment breaking down, becoming irreparable, and because rapid advances in electronic technology have made frequent upgrades the norm. Electronic waste is also referred to as Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste (EEEW), but for the purposes of this study and for the sake of consistency, the term e-waste will be used.
The United Nations Environmental Programme reported that e-waste generated in 2014 from the sale of electronic goods would amount to approximately 18.8 billion US dollars, and without sustainable management, monitoring and good governance of e-waste, illegal activities may only increase, undermining attempts to protect health and the environment, as well as to generate legitimate employment (Rucevska, Nellemann, Isarin, Yang, Liu, Yu, Sandnaes, Olley, McCann, Devia, Bisschop, Soesilo, Schoolmeester, Henriksen and Nilsen, 2015). According to Greenpeace International (2010), the high demand for electronic equipment globally contributes to a tremendous increase in electronic waste, and this is potentially becoming the most dangerous threat to the environment and, ultimately, to one’s health.
In Africa, there has been a substantial increase in the use and ownership of electronic goods, particularly cellular phones and computers. Data from the STEP (Solving The E-waste Problem) world map indicates that Nigeria generates the largest quantity of e-waste in Africa (Esselaar, Gillwald, Moyo and Naidoo 2010). Research on e-waste undertaken in Nigeria by HewlettPackard (2009) found that owners of electronic devices manage their e-waste in one or more of the following ways: store it, recycle it informally, add it to the domestic waste stream, or dump it illegally. The Nigerian Department of Environmental Affairs (2010) recognises the rapidly emerging and serious issue of e-waste, and advises that e-waste must be managed in an environmentally responsible manner.
1.3 statement of Research Problem
According to Finlay and Liechti (2008), electronic waste has become a major concern globally and many countries have introduced policy guidelines and legislation for the management thereof. In Abuja, Abuja, where this study was conducted, the e-waste problem is exacerbated by the disposal of ewaste primarily at municipal landfill sites. To this end, the eThekwini Municipality (2013) has realised that a culture of recycling must be fostered within society, and that more opportunities need to be created for the recycling of waste by implementing the Waste Management Plan, whose main goal is to optimise waste management in the region so as to minimise its environmental impact. However, this opportunity has not been fully realised by the green computing sector. This is deduced from the fact that as of May 2015, eThekwini Municipality has no policies or by-laws regarding e-waste management.
By its very nature, e-waste is hazardous, and if not safely disposed of, it can have a negative impact on the natural environment. Given the size of the Wuse Market and the Kubwa Market , the volume of e-waste generated annually is substantial, and if the organisations located within this highly populated commercial and manufacturing zone do not manage their e-waste in an environmentally responsible manner, it will have a significant adverse impact on the environment. To this end, this study investigated the potential quantity of e-waste that will be generated within the study area in the next five years (2015 – 2020) and the manner in which e-waste generated by these organisations is managed, with a view to recommending best practices for its safe disposal.
1.4 Aim and objectives of the study
The overall aim of the study was to investigate the generation and methods of management of e-waste to ensure green computing within the Wuse Market and Kubwa Market in Abuja, Abuja.
The objectives of the study were:
- to establish the potential quantity of e-waste generated at the Wuse Market and the Kubwa Market , and assess its economic benefit, if recycled;
- to examine the methods employed by organisations within the study area to ensure green computing;
- to establish the extent to which e-waste generated within the study area was managed in an environmentally responsible manner, and
- to determine the attitude of organisations within the study area towards the establishment of an green computing operation.
1.5 Significance of the study
The study was undertaken with the approval and cooperation of the management of the Wuse Market and Kubwa Market . The findings of this study will be shared with the managers of all the organisations located within the study area with a view to sensitising them to the negative impact of their e-waste on the environment and to encourage them to manage their e-waste in an environmentally responsible manner. By doing so, it is hoped that the negative impact of the e-waste generated at the Wuse Market and Kubwa Market on the environment will be minimised, thereby contributing to a safer and better working environment, not only for the employees in the complex, but, for society at large.
1.6 Scope of the study
Thestudy was confined to organisations located within theWuse Market and Kubwa Market , which is located in , Nigeria.
Electronic waste emanating only from the following sources was considered: computers and their related peripherals; office electronic devices; air conditioners; electronic circuit boards, and electronic machinery and equipment used in the commercial and manufacturing sector.