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Electronic Waste Pollution Laws and Regulations in China

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China has been taking into consideration in the electronic waste pollution since the 1990s because serious environmental contaminations regarding e-waste have been encountered and reported in the country, especially in Guiyu town that is one of the two well-known regions of illegal e-waste recycling activities in China. The methods that were used to recycle e-waste by the illegal recycling industries in Guyiu town were not quite safety for environment and human health during 1990s to 2000s [1, 2]. Therefore, the authorities had enacted many of environmental laws, regulations and standards to manage electronic waste and to transform the existing recycling methods since 2000s [1]. Among the laws and regulations that were enacted since 2000s regarding e-waste management in China, the study [3] labeled seven most important laws and regulations in table 1.

Although the actions of law enhancement and transformation of the existing recycling methods were seem to be successful in e-waste management, recycling e-waste by using the conservative methods were continuing because some people who mainly depend on recycling industries for their earnings were not willing to obey the existing regulatory actions. Therefore, the process of transforming the existing recycling methods could not obtain a satisfied result because of having the limited specific laws and regulations regarding e-waste control and management such as lack of licensing system for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

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Enforcement of laws and regulations plays a critical role in effective e-waste management in order to reduce the impacts on the environment and human health. In Guiyu town, illegal e-waste recycling industries are one of the main sources of human exposure to the toxic chemicals from e-waste because these kinds of industries apply improper ways to recycle e-wastes. Therefore, the authorities should implement licensing system in order to transform the illegal industries into legal ones. Spontaneously, recycling industries should be improved by providing proper trainings and new technologies. Then after, the authorities should create a market for trading legal recycling products for the sustainability of legal recycling industries, and these industries should be monitored by the authorities. By implementing this system, illegal recycling industries can be reduced; therefore, the risks of human exposure to toxic chemicals can also be eliminated to some extent. Furthermore, developing a market for trading legal recycling products may become an incentive to induce the illegal recyclers to move into formal industries, as well as it can help solve the depletion of natural resources, energy shortage and environmental pollution. But there may be some challenges in the successful implementation of this system. Generally, most of illegal e-waste recyclers are those who have little final backing, so they may not be likely to pay license fee for their work, thereby avoiding applying license. Moreover, if the authorities cannot monitor regularly and properly, recycling methods may become the same ways that the illegal recyclers used.

In addition, the authorities should implement extended producer responsibility (EPR), is an efficient waste management policy that has been used in many European countries and some Asia countries as well. In EPR, manufactures are responsible for recycling of e-waste, but payment for collection of used e-waste is different depending on the country. For example, in Switzerland, producers are responsible for both collection of used waste and recycling of them. But, in Japan, consumers have to pay for collection of their used products. Generally, EPR encourages producers to design their products in an environmental friendly ways such as easy to recycle, transport and disposal by using better technologies [3, 4]. By developing EPR, illegal recycling industries and human exposure to the toxic chemicals can be eliminated, and then changing the design of products into environmental friendly ways can lead to the sustainable consumption and production by reducing the use of natural resources and energy. However, if consumers have to involve in some parts of the payment for collection and recycling of the products, it can lead consumers to the non-participation in the system.

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