Environment Health Policy Paper

Environment Health Policy Paper


Environmental and health degradation has formed central concern of environmentalists and has ripple attention from the public health sector. This degradation has occurred under the patronage of health and environmental hazards which take various forms in different places at different times. In the age of information communication technology, environmental degradation has taken a new dimension. This is because of the environmental impact of some of the products. Specifically, the electronic waste has formed a fundamental area of concern from relevant authorities. The proliferation of electronic waste in the environment has posed not only health but also environmental challenges which are far reaching. The technology products such as computers, computer monitors, DVD players and computer appliances become obsolete and render a serious challenge of environmental nature. Thus they are hazards. E-waste is currently of the rising problems and the stakeholders have proposed measures to counteract the problem. E-waste has been the cause of proliferation of landfills, distortion of physical environment and to a larger extent health challenges. Georgia is not an exemption to this environmental hazard. Legislation, recycling programs and reduction of production of electronic products are some of the intervention measures that have been proposed within Georgia in order to check the rising problem. However, the technical interventions that includes volume reduction, recovery and reuse as well as creating electronic components and peripherals of biodegradable. Further, inventory management and production process modification are the recommended solutions for Georgia’s electronic waste environmental hazard.


            The problem that will be addressed is the issue of electronic waste as an environment and health hazard within Atlanta GA. The paper provides the analysis of electronic waste including the definition and explanation of what the hazard entails as well as its scope. This will be done from a general perspective. It will be noted that E-waste entails technology products that have gone obsolete and rendered unusable and then thrown away. These may scatter in the environment thereby making the environment ugly and sometimes dereliction may result. The paper will also focus on the variety of solutions. The recommended policy action will then be delineated and will be drawn from the possible solutions or remedies.

Background and context

According to Georgia Environmental Compliance Assistance Program (2007), electronic waste is defined as anything with a circuit board or a Cathode Ray Tube. Some of the common types of electronic waste include desktop computers, laptop computers, digital cameras, computer accessories, cables, DVD players, television sets, fax machines, telephony equipment and so on (Kahhat, Hieronymi, Williams, 2012). These products become obsolete, they are considered health and environmental hazards because of their capacity to contain discrete toxic materials such as lead, tin, cadmium, mercury and flame retardants as well as polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDEs) (Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council, 2005). According to Pinto (2008), electronic waste can be defined as the old, end-of-life electronic appliances which have been disposed by the original users. Electronic waste is now one of the rapidly increasing problems that the world is facing, especially in the age of burgeoning developments in information communication technology.

According to Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council (2005), electronic equipment used for computing, communication, information transfer, manufacturing and comers are found everywhere within Georgia. When such equipment become old, slow and obsolete they become e-scrap. They must be disposed of, reused or recycled in economically and environmentally friendly ways (Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council, 2005). However, electronic equipment is not subject to regulation as waste and this puts strain in management thereby resulting to huge e-waste (Board on Environmental Studies, 2000). Some methods of disposing (such as landfill) and recycling may create further health and environmental problems and hazards. According the City of Atlanta (2014), programs such as Cartlanta Recycling Program have come to respond to the issue of environmental sustainability including the management of electronic waste. Emphasis has been placed on recycling which is deemed an important step towards the City’s goals towards becoming a greener place to live, work and play.

However, Atlanta is not as much hit in terms of influx of electronic waste when compared to other communities (Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council, 2005; (Georgia Environmental Compliance Assistance Program, 2007). Atlanta fairs well compared to communities such as in California where electronic waste is a serious environmental and health hazard. Although the state does not have e-waste legislation, there have been attempts to reduce e-waste and its debilitating health and environmental impacts. M & M Waste for instance has been on the fore front in taking the electronic waste and redundant appliances that have been left on the ground and dispose them in environmentally friendly way. Further, meeting all EPA goals, the Atlanta Recycling Center is committed to disposal and recycling of electronic waste to keep toxins out of the environment (Kahhat, Hieronymi, Williams, 2012). Since ECOFLO attempts to remove and dispose mercury, lead and toxic waste, it is also pertinent in responding to electronic waste since these toxins are part of the e-waste as discussed above.

Possible Solutions

There are various remediation approaches that can be used to further counter the problem of electronic waste in Atlanta. One of the approaches is electronic waste legislation at state and local level. This is at policy level intervention. Other approaches include promotion of electronic waste reduction through recycling and environmentally appropriate ways of disposal and educating City employees as well as the general public about e-waste recycling programs and existing opportunities (awareness building) (Pinto, 2008). It is important that the state and local agencies create liaison on recycling and disposal issues. Further, technical interventions would include volume reduction, recovery and reuse, creating electronic components and peripherals of biodegradable material, inventory management as well as production process modification.

Recommended Policy Action

The recommended policy action is the technical interventions that have been addressed and augmented by electronic waste legislation. According to Electronic Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (2014), only 25 states that currently have e-waste laws. The importance of having electronic waste legislation is that the communities at local level such as Atlanta would have the legal mandate and capacity to control waste reduction, recycling and disposal in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways (Cahoy, & Colburn, 2014; Daven & Klein, 2008). This is how the technical interventions highlighted above would be responded to and implemented. This approach of electronic waste legislation is more effective because it goes down to touch on the technical interventions that provide the appropriate way of responding the environmental and health hazard of electronic waste (Kahhat, Hieronymi, Williams, 2012). The criteria to measure success include the reduction of health problems resulting from this hazard, reduction of electronic waste in overall as well as increase and success in recycling and disposal mechanisms (Wong, 2012).


            Waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) form a fundamental environmental and health hazard. In the contemporary world driven by technological inventions, e-waste has become an important health and environmental hazard that is already facing local, regional and international public health and environmental management efforts. Atlanta has been compounded with e-waste environmental hazard. Possible solutions discussed include legislation where laws are enacted to enforce e-waste management. Technical interventions would include volume reduction, recovery and reuse, creating electronic components and peripherals of biodegradable material, inventory management as well as production process modification. The recommended policy action is the technical interventions. These can be augmented by electronic waste legislation.


Atlanta Recycling Center (2015). Electronics Recycling. Retrieved on February 9, 2015 from: http://www.atlantarecyclingcenter.com/electronics-recycling.php

Board on Environmental Studies (2000). Waste Incineration and Public Health. NY; National Academies Press.

Cahoy, D. & Colburn, J. (2014). Law and the Transition to Business sustainability. NY; Springer.

City of Atlanta (2014). Recycling Information. Retrieved on February 9, 2015 from: https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/public-works/recycling-program

Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council (2005). Electronics Recycling: An Economic Development Opportunity For the New Georgia. Final Report.

Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Council (2005). Electronics Recycling: An Economic Development Opportunity For the New Georgia. Final Report.

Daven, J. I., & Klein, R. N. (2008). Progress in waste management research. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Electronic Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (2014). Map of States With Legislation. Retrieved on February 9, 2015 from: http://www.ecycleclearinghouse.org/Content.aspx?pageid=10

Georgia Environmental Compliance Assistance Program (2007). Electronic Waste.

Kahhat, R., Hieronymi, K., & Williams, E 2012, E-Waste Management: From Waste to Resource. London; Routledge.

Pinto, V. (2008). E-waste hazard: The impending challenge. Indian Journal Occupation and Environmental Medicine, 12(2): 25-70.

Wong, M. (2012). Environmental Contamination: Health Risks and Ecological Restoration. NY; CRC Press.

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