Introduction and Background
Electrical and Electronic products have become a must part of today’s life. Modern life seems impossible without these products. These products are used in almost all areas such as education, food, military, security, medical science, media and communication, construction, manufacturing and culture. Some examples of domestic devices are refrigerators, televisions, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and personal computers, printing devices and toys. Most of these devices are used either as products or as facilitators in the digital economy world. While digital economy has proven to be a life changing phenomena in a good way, there is a dark side to it – the ‘waste’ or sometimes termed as ‘e-waste’
The most alarming factor of these electronic and electrical equipment is the fast rate of moral wear. Due to rapid advancement and enhancements in digital world, most equipment especially mobile devices and computers become obsolete before their physical expiry. Affordability of newer equipment has encouraged consumers to throw away their old but working equipment and buy new ones, hence creating a significant amount of electrical and electronic waste.
The Research Paper
The research paper titled “The Digital Economy and the Evolution of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment in European Union” was published by International Business Information Management Association (IBIMA). The paper starts with a brief description of Digital economy and its effects on the environment. It defines what digital economy is and what different models of digital economy are in use. It then provides a series of facts and figures, comparing data from history and trying to show a trend in increase in WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). All figures are focused on data from countries included in European Union.
A simple chart based on the data provided in the research paper is shown below. The results are based on The European Commission on Eco-design of Energy-using Products (EUP) study on computers. The chart clearly shows that the sales of computers has grown linearly over the past few years and is expected to follow an exponential trend in the near future. The research also shows that flat screen monitors have replaced the conventional Cathode Ray Monitors. [The Digital Economy and the Evolution of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment in European Union, 2008]
Moving forward the research paper discusses some more figures around the number of electrical and electronic items in the IT and Telecommunication domain introduced to the European market. It also shows that the weight arising from these items exceeded 1 million tonnes in 2005.
The second part of the research paper describes some of the steps taken by European Union countries to address the WEEE issue. It also points out that although EU has taken some of the steps to reduce WEEE, at the time there were no sufficient researches on the impact of e-waste on the environment. Some studies on e-waste management shows that there’s a lack of quality in the information of statistical data collected by different European Union countries mostly because very few countries regularly submit and share their data. Chart below shows a forecast of Waste Electrical and Electronic arising from household items in European Union countries: [The Digital Economy and the Evolution of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment in European Union, 2008]
Although the research paper provides a very detailed analysis with the help of facts and figures, I think there are certain things that are missing. Firstly the term Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment is not defined in detail, which makes it difficult for the average reader to get a full background. Secondly it fails in categorizing the Electrical and Electronic equipment that constitute WEEE;