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Electrical and Electronic Waste: Environmental Impact and Risk Mitigation for Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Waste and Recycling".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 5122

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Biotechnology, School of Chemical and Biotechnology, SASTRA Deemed University, Thanjavur 613401, Tamil Nadu, India
Interests: bioremediation; biosorption; wastewater treatment; separation technology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Physical and Earth Sciences, Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley 8301, South Africa
Interests: emerging pollutants; environmental remediation; nanomaterials; water treatment
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Skudai 81310, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Interests: bioconversion; bioprocess engineering; biochar; green technology; wastewater treatment; biodiesel

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Guest Editor
Department of Ecological Studies, and International Centre for Ecological Engineering, University of Kalyani, Nadia 741235, West Bengal, India
Interests: soil and water contamination; ecotoxicology, bioremediation and ecotechnological remediation of soil and water contaminants (toxic metal(loid)s and emerging contaminants); environmental microbiology; nanobiotechnology; environmental sustainability and SDGs

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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Processes (LAPRO), Center of Technology, Federal University of Alagoas, Campus A. C. Simões, Av. Lourival Melo Mota, Tabuleiro dos Martins, Maceió CEP 57072-970, AL, Brazil
Interests: separation processes; adsorption materials; materials characterization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The modern world is associated with the use of different forms of electrical and electronic devices and components, utilized widely in various applications. Although the positive aspects of electrical and electronic equipment are very significant, the growing concern regarding various negative impacts, especially environmental damage and human health hazards, are of major concern. The research area of solid waste management, and especially efforts to understand the hazards posed by electrical and electronics waste, as well as treatment approaches and their challenges are major growing interests among researchers worldwide.     

This Special Issue mainly focuses on understanding the generation routes of electrical and electronic wastes, improper disposal and their hazardous effects. We aim to further address the problem by publishing papers addressing various solid waste management strategies; physical, chemical and biological treatment/recovery approaches; reutilization means; circular economy; and trends in sustainability approaches. 

In shifting towards global digitalization and modernization, the growth in electric and electronic goods and equipment is undeniable. As the development of new technology is very dynamic and rapidly changing, new equipment is continuously being invented, modified and upgraded—especially at the manufacturing stage. This scenario is the main cause of the increasing amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) worldwide, the toxic and hazardous compounds contained in which represent severe threats to the environment and living organisms. The chain towards sustainability will be affected by WEEE as it interferes with society, culture, environment, and economy. Due to these alarming threats, especially those towards human health, the disposal stage for WEEE has led to the establishment of rules and regulations enforced by the government and non-government sectors through public policies.

The goal of this Special Issue is to consolidate research and current thinking on assessing the environmental impact caused by the significantly increasing amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) globally while designing mitigation plans for the policy makers in realizing a sustainable way of life.

This Special Issue welcomes original research articles and reviews. Research areas may include (but aer not limited to) the following:

  • Electric and electronic waste management strategies;
  • Environmental risk assessment;
  • Potential pathways in mitigating risks caused by WEEE;
  • Physical treatment approaches;
  • Chemical treatment approaches;
  • Bioremediation of WEEE contaminants;
  • Bioleaching of electronic waste;
  • Biotechnological approaches to WEEE management;
  • Recycling of WEEE;
  • Resource recovery from WEEE;
  • Circular economy and sustainability means of handling WEEE;
  • Future outlooks on WEEE.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Rangabhashiyam Selvasembian
Dr. Nhamo Chaukura
Dr. Nur Izyan Wan Azelee
Prof. Dr. Jayanta Kumar Biswas
Prof. Dr. Lucas Meili
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
  • environmental impact
  • sustainability
  • risk
  • act and regulations
  • circular economy

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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19 pages, 5920 KiB  
Article
Environmental and Technological Assessment of Operations for Extraction and Concentration of Metals in Electronic Waste
by Josinaldo Dias, Angelus Giuseppe Pereira Silva, José Nilson França de Holanda, Fabíola Martins Delatorre, Amanda Oliveira da Conceição, Gilson Mendonça de Miranda Júnior, Aurora Futuro and Sílvia Cardinal Pinho
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 13175; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151713175 - 01 Sep 2023
Viewed by 617
Abstract
The exponential growth in the consumption of electronics, in combination with the reduction in their useful life, has led to a significant increase in the volume of electronic materials which are discarded. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are modules composed of ceramic, polymer, and [...] Read more.
The exponential growth in the consumption of electronics, in combination with the reduction in their useful life, has led to a significant increase in the volume of electronic materials which are discarded. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are modules composed of ceramic, polymer, and metallic materials of high economic value and with a great potential for damage to biotic and anthropic environments when inadequately discarded. The aims of this work were to study the main environmental impacts and the efficiency of mechanical operations in the electronic waste recycling process in optimizing the concentration of metallic copper. For this, the samples obtained were characterized according to their morphology and chemical composition, and subjected to physical and mechanical treatments: dismantling, grinding, separation by granulometry, density, and magnetic property. The environment impacts were estimated by the Life Cycle Assessment of the pre-treatment processes, associated with copper extraction operations in Waste Printed Circuit Boards (WPCBs). According to the results obtained, it is possible to infer that the NM + 1 mm Concentrated product presents in its metallic composition around 78% copper, which contributes to the efficiency of the hydrometallurgical extraction processes. It is noteworthy that the Concentrated class represents about 14% of copper (wt) taking into account the amount of 3.789 kg of PCB waste input material. The potential for reinsertion of the dust in the material recovery process is highlighted, given that the chemical composition of this particulate has a significant presence of metals. In general, it was found that due to the higher concentration (wt%) of the sample being allocated in the range of −0.15 mm + 0.05 mm, the elements Fe (18.30%), Si (10.73%), Ca (9.21%), and Cu (8.89%) stand out regarding the participation of the elemental composition of this fraction and also regarding the general composition of the sample. Furthermore, the generation of dust during the fragmentation process can be associated with occupational respiratory diseases when not managed. About the Life Cycle Assessment, in seven of the nine categories evaluated, crushing and screening activities accounted for more than 90% of the recorded impact values. In general, it is estimated that in the pre-treatment phase it generated 15.4 kg CO2 eq. Full article
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29 pages, 5644 KiB  
Article
Electronic Waste Collection Incentivization Scheme Based on the Blockchain
by Ala Abdulsalam Alarood, Adamu Abubakar, Abdulrahman Alzahrani and Faisal S. Alsubaei
Sustainability 2023, 15(13), 10209; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151310209 - 27 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1612
Abstract
The approaches of motivating people for the collection of electronic waste (e-waste) are often insufficient due to inadequate methods of given incentives. Prior research studies have been carried out to tackle the issue of e-waste management in a broad sense. The findings of [...] Read more.
The approaches of motivating people for the collection of electronic waste (e-waste) are often insufficient due to inadequate methods of given incentives. Prior research studies have been carried out to tackle the issue of e-waste management in a broad sense. The findings of those studies indicated diverse strategies, each of which is relevant solely to a restricted range of electronic e-waste reprocessing circumstances. The current study has presented a proposed technique for incentivizing tasks and activities associated with the collection of e-waste through the adoption of the vector space technique. The method this research undertakes lies with utilizing blockchain smart contract technology. The reason for selecting this approach lies with the mapping of tasks, the nature of activities, and their magnitude, in order to derived an incentive. While the vector space model defines the set of tasks with their corresponding incentives, blockchain smart contract maps them together and establishes them in a record. Experimental scenarios for the calculation of incentives are presented; the findings reveal that among many scenarios of allocating incentives for e-waste collection, the best case is by utilizing a weighting scale scheme where each task and activity is mapped to its associated incentive rather than providing fixed incentive values. Ethereum was used as a digital token for each unit of incentive. This concept has contributed in encouraging personal accountability in the management of e-waste collection in order to cultivate sustainable behaviors for a long-term solution. Full article
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Review

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19 pages, 3015 KiB  
Review
An Integrated Approach for Electronic Waste Management—Overview of Sources of Generation, Toxicological Effects, Assessment, Governance, and Mitigation Approaches
by Abhishek Nandan, Albin C. Suresh, Parth Saole, S. Amulya Jeevanasai, Ramprasad Chandrasekaran, Lucas Meili, Nur Izyan Wan Azelee and Rangabhashiyam Selvasembian
Sustainability 2023, 15(24), 16946; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152416946 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 2363
Abstract
Electronic waste (e-waste) management has become a significant challenge in recent years due to the increasing consumption of electronic devices and their improper disposal. Effective e-waste management requires a comprehensive approach that considers the environmental, economic, and social impacts of e-waste. This comprehensive [...] Read more.
Electronic waste (e-waste) management has become a significant challenge in recent years due to the increasing consumption of electronic devices and their improper disposal. Effective e-waste management requires a comprehensive approach that considers the environmental, economic, and social impacts of e-waste. This comprehensive review provides a critical assessment of e-waste management procedures, encompassing the stages of collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal. Emphasising the significance of embracing sustainable approaches like reusing, repairing, and recycling, the review underscores their pivotal role in mitigating the adverse environmental and human health effects of e-waste. This review provides an overview of e-waste management concerns specifically in India from its collection to the end cycle including toxicological, environmental, and human impacts and a graphical analysis of current and future e-waste trends. It emphasises the need to effectively enforce regulations and establish extended producer responsibility (EPR) to promote sustainable e-waste management practices. Additionally, the review delves into the complexities surrounding e-waste management, such as insufficient infrastructure, resource and funding constraints, and a dearth of awareness among stakeholders. It strongly underscores the necessity for a concerted endeavour involving governments, industries, and communities to tackle these obstacles and advance the cause of efficient e-waste management practices. This paper is valuable to the scientific community as it offers a thorough assessment of e-waste management, focusing on environmental, economic, and social impacts. It emphasises sustainable practices and regulatory measures, providing actionable insights to address e-waste challenges. Overall, this review provides a comprehensive overview of e-waste management and highlights the importance of adopting sustainable practices to address the negative impacts of e-waste on the environment, human health, and the economy. Full article
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