[Note] E-waste is not necessarily waste, it can be wealth

By Darwin Mendiola

Just a week ago, I attended a forum organized by Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. regarding E-Scrap. I thought at first that this was simply about another heap of garbage problem brought about by our growing consumerism. Little did I know that the proper management of electronic waste gives the anti-mining advocate a more convincing argument to end the natural mineral extraction as there are in our very eyes bulks of metal to mine.

Just like me, people nowadays may have old and damaged electronic devices just gathering dust in their closet. They may seem to be worthless and we opt to get rid of them. This resulted in the growing number of electronic items found in the dump sites or waste streams that are creating further waste problems.

As the old saying goes, “there is wealth in waste”.

Our continuous dependence on electronic equipment at home and in the workplace has given rise to a new environmental challenge – electronic waste. Electronic waste or e-waste, refers to electronic products that no longer satisfy the needs of its original purpose. These can include a wide variety of goods, such as computers, cellular phones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, video cameras, etc.

While experts say that old pieces of equipment can be harmful as they contain hazardous materials such as lead, beryllium, mercury, cadmium, and chromium that pose both physical and environmental health threat especially if exposed to sun and rain, but they can be a new source of income.

According to Greenpeace, there are huge electronic wastes being dump at the Smokey Mountain garbage site in Manila every year. Electronic waste is the fastest growing component in the global waste stream amounting to 20 to 50 million tons worldwide with Asia contributing about 12 million tons a year.

During the forum, a study made by Dr. Eulalio R. Guieb III of the University of the Philippines, entitled “The Social Life of Retired Cellular Phones”, focuses on the need to strengthen the recycle market that will help divert e-waste from the landfills, thereby reducing waste products and at the same time providing a new source for materials recovery for obsolete technology.

In his presentation, Dr. Guieb emphasized the general strengthening of all areas for e-waste management in the Philippines more than what the Solid Waste Management Law requires. With the growing bulk of e waste disposal every year, the government and the private sectors have overlooked the potential of retrieving valuable minerals in e-waste products. Dr. Guieb said that “for every ounce of gold that has to be mined in the open pit mining field, it produces more than 30 tons of waste”.

He added that by shifting our country’s economic focus from mineral mining to e-waste recycling, will not only preserve the environment but it can also also mitigate the growing e-waste problem and to reduce the need for mineral mining. He stressed out that “there are a lot of recoverable and valuable resources in e-waste like plastics, gold, copper, aluminum, and iron. To preserve our natural resources, it is only logical to recycle and reuse e-waste products instead of dumping into landfills.

But he made it clear that it can only be done if the government will do something to make it happen. Despite the existing e-waste policy framework, it still lacks adequate facilities for recycling technologies and by financial support. There is also a need for a continuous public awareness campaign and social dialogue between the public and private sectors in order for all stakeholders to be responsible for the policy implementation.

The first step is a simple recognition that e-waste is not necessarily waste, it can still be useful and valuable to us if we know how to properly dispose them. Who knows it may accelerate our slow paced economy.


Photo courtesy of www.greenpeace.org.


[In the Web] PNoy defends PH human rights situation

President Benigno Aquino III defended the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines in an event that was organized by the Egmont Institute, a think-tank group based in Belgium held in Val Deuchess.

The Philippines was the focus of international attention with the spate of killings, disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration

President Aquino cited the arrest of retired major general Jovito Palparan for his alleged involvement in the forced disappearance of two UP students in 2007 as a proof of his government’s serious efforts to put behind bars those accountable for human rights violations.

“One of the foremost human rights violators or accused, alleged human rights violators, in the person of General Palparan, who used to be a member of our Armed Forces, has recently been arrested and presently incarcerated and undergoing trial,” he said.

He reiterated his government’s commitment to human rights, rule of law and democracy.

However, he pointed out that justice for victims of human rights violations can’t be achieved without reforming the criminal justice system.

“Now, in our system also, the judicial branch is not directly under my office. We operate on three separate branches and, for instance, the so-called Maguindanao massacre is also a source of frustration for the executive department. There are 58 counts of homicide and murder on that particular case and over a hundred accused and we are still in the process of arresting some of the others accused,” he added.

President Aquino is in his four-nation European trip to meet investors from Europe and the US and to promote the Philippines not only as a tourist destination but also as an investment haven, bragging his administration’s gains in putting the economy in the right track.

Courtesy of rappler.com

[Video] Asian Decent Work Decade – youtube


Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.


Productive employment and Decent Work are key elements to achieving a fair globalization and the reduction of poverty. The ILO has developed an agenda for the community of work. Putting the Decent Work Agenda into practice is achieved through four strategic pillars: job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, with gender equality as a crosscutting objective.


– International Labour Organization

[Book] The social responsibilities of business and workers’ rights

Corporate social responsibility is useful if it provides 
the space for workers to protect their own interests – and 
damaging if it tries to fill that space. Respect for 
basic rights, union recognition, collective bargaining 
and social dialogue, including at the international level, 
are key ingredients of industrial democracy and 
social responsibility.

Guy Ryder
General Secretary
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)

[Book] Know your rights