New initiative to tackle 'e-garbage' threat
Manama, April 7, 2012
A green initiative is being launched in Bahrain to collect unwanted or broken electronics items and reuse them in other ways - including making cement.
It is the brainchild of Bahrain resident David Hack, who fears that Bahrain could become an "e-garbage heap".
The South African warned of a "severe problem" in coming years unless action was taken to properly dispose of non-biodegradable electronic waste.
"I have this fear that with the amount of e-waste being generated in Bahrain and no real collection or disposing infrastructure in place, we could have a severe problem on our hands," he told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Hack is a headteacher at Rawad Al Khaleej School in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, but lives in Bahrain. He is also an industrial chemist and a vocational trainer who was involved in recycling electronics in South Africa for more than 10 years.
The plan is to set up collection points around Bahrain where people can dispose of unwanted electronics.
Hack explained that the idea was to recover components from unwanted devices that could be reused or refurbished.
"The remainder will be dismantled to liberate iron, aluminium and copper, which will undergo final recovery at local businesses in Bahrain," he said.
He said plastics would be recycled for use in new products, components and materials, printed circuit boards would be processed locally to partially recover special metals and the remainder would be exported to incinerators.
Hack warned simply throwing away computers and mobile phones posed a major risk to the environment once they ended up in a landfill.
"Be it individuals or companies, there are no disposal mechanisms in place," he said.
"We tend to just let these broken things lie at home or just dump them. This should not happen because every component we are dumping is contributing to poisoning our environment," he added.
Hack, whose plans involve setting up small collection centres all over Bahrain, said most e-waste could be reused.
"It can be broken up into several components and used, while what cannot be used can be incinerated and refined in specialised facilities," he said.
One of his proposals involves grinding unusable components into a fine powder and mixing it with concrete to make ready-mix cement blocks. "That can be easily done in Bahrain," he added.
He said once volumes increased, the e-waste could be exported to incinerators in Germany.
He said he was confident that the scheme would create new jobs for Bahrainis. "This is one of the driving forces of our project," he added.
The main aims of the project are to treat hazardous materials in an environmentally friendly manner; recover the maximum valuable material within Bahrain; and create eco-efficient and sustainable business and employment opportunities for young Bahrainis.
Hack said modern electronics contained up to 60 different elements. "Many are valuable, some are hazardous and some are both," he explained.
"The most complex mix of substances is usually present in the printed circuit boards.
"In its entirety, electrical and electronic equipment is a major consumer of many precious and special metals and therefore an important contributor to the world's demand for metals."
Hack has roped in local businessman Sai Krishnan, who launched an initiative to recycle old laptop computers nearly two years ago.
The Bahrain Computer Repair Centre operations manager started offering service and repair coupons to anyone who took in their old and disused laptops.
He then got experts to use parts from old computers, which might otherwise be discarded.
The company later launched a "reverse logistics" repair centre, which aimed to make use of goods that would otherwise have been thrown away.-TradeArabia News Service