e-waste Archives


Sri Lanka exports e-waste

Posted on December 23, 2011  /  0 Comments

Back in 2008, I had a knock-down policy debate with current Provincial Council Minister and then Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority Udaya Gammanpila (mostly in the Sinhala newspapers, so difficult to give all the links, but here is one). In the short-term he won: the two percent envi levy was not rolled back at that time. But in the long-term we won: the 2011 Budget abolished the envi levy and the dream of funding all the activities of the Environment Ministry from mobile taxes went away. In the course of the debate, Mr Gammanpila claimed that e waste could not be transported across borders and that therefore the levy was needed to fund the construction of a factory. I questioned the veracity of this claim and even challenged him to a public debate.

No e-waste exports from the US?

Posted on April 15, 2010  /  1 Comments

Sometime back we had an unconcluded debate on e-waste with Mr Udaya Gammanpila, then Chair of the Sri Lanka Central Environmental Authority. He said, among other things, that inter-country movement of e waste was prohibited. I countered that the Basel rules permitted transport, but imposed conditions on the movement. The debate that is discussed in the NYT article below hinges on the same issue. One party argues that all e-waste exports to developing countries should be prohibited because they cannot be sure that we will follow the rules.
In other countries, government are focusing on removing electronic equipment from the waste stream, basically requiring the equipment vendors to take the unwanted equipment back. Since January, Washington State residents and small businesses have been allowed to drop off their televisions, computers and computer monitors free of charge to one of 200 collection points around the state. They have responded by dumping more than 15 million pounds of electronic waste, according to state collection data. If disposal continues at this rate, it will amount to more than five pounds for every man, woman and child per year. In Sri Lanka, the Environment Ministry is collecting massive amounts of money from mobile usage, in the name of recycling mobile phones.
Multiple dishes is a common sight at many Nenasalas – the ‘telecentres’ set up under the e-Sri Lanka program, funded by the World Bank. Some of them are huge – with diameters little less than 2m. Having not done a design recently, I cannot tell the prices offhand, but I do know they are expensive – one such dish (with equipment) costs few times more than the aggregate cost of the PCs and peripherals in the centre. Why a telecenter is equipped with multiple dishes? The reason is, sadly, poor planning.
Supreme Court today (Nov 01, 2008) ordered the suspension of three environmental levies imposed recently, reported Lanka Dissent. Accordingly, the levies imposed on telecommunication towers, CFC bulbs of more than 40 Watts as well as the levy imposed on vehicles in the Western Province were directed to be suspended. Should we open a bottle of Champaign? May be not. It was not LIRNEasia that took Environment Ministry to courts.
Considering five fundamental rights applications yesterday (Sept 22), the Supreme Court issued an interim order against the implementation of the Environment Tax, reported Lanka Dissent. The petitioners were Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, Ven. Kiniyawala Palitha Thera, Telshan Network and Swarnavahini. The SC ordered the immediate suspension of the gazette notification announcing the new tax, and fixed December 01st as the next day of hearing.
Responding to Rohan Samarajiva’s views on newly implemented Environmental levy in Lankadeepa last week, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila calls it essential and the ‘first progressive tax’ in Sri Lanka. Assuring it does not burden public, he says any tax can be initially unpopular but the impact should be seen in long term. (Lankadeepa, August 19, 2008) These are his points in brief: 1. If not for the Environmental levy, the government has to find money to address environmental issues by increasing either VAT or customs charges. That will raise prices in general.
Two thousand and five hundred years ago, Gautama Buddha correlated tax collectors to bees. A righteous ruler, said he, taking the Liccavis as an example, collects tax without making it a burden on people, in the same was a bee collects honey from a flower (without damaging it). Such wise words were not always heeded. Four new levies, reported Financial Times today, will come into force this month under the Environmental Conservation Levy Act No. 8 of 2008.

Is mobile phone a polluter?

Posted on April 10, 2008  /  1 Comments

Do mobile phones pollute the environment? Sri Lanka’s Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka thinks so. That was why he wants to impose a so called ‘environment tax’ on mobiles, (in fact all phones, but the above newspaper article focuses on mobiles) at two points, when you purchase it and use it. This is on top of the rest of the tax components the mobile users already have to pay. No information to that mobile usage is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s environment.
LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Sri Lanka’s top celco Dialog Telekom wants to collect a million old phones and recycle them in the next two years in an initiative that will keep dangerous heavy metals from contaminating the environment, officials said. Phone batteries for example have heavy metals such a lead, nickel and cadmium. Dialog is collecting old phones and accessories from today. “In Sri Lanka there are about 10 million mobile phones, and mobile phones become obsolete in two to three years,” says Michael de Soyza from Dialog who heads the project. “Though some are handed down to friends and siblings, eventually they are discarded and are disposed of through the garbage collection system.