ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What to do with hazardous e-waste in #Bhutan?

With the growing number of computers, printers, and other electronic devices in the Kingdom, the amount of e-waste is also increasing. While alkaline batteries are safe to dispose in ordinary waste, there are many other e-waste items that are dangerous and require special disposal or recycling, because they contain hazardous materials that are harmful to people and/or the environment. Here are some items of this type:
"BATTERY MUST BE RECYCLED"A typical UPS battery available in Bhutan
We searched for a local government agency or company who collects e-waste, but unfortunately it looks like there is currently no solution. In some countries, computer and electronic shops accept e-waste from customers (sometimes for a small fee) and take care of their disposal. That is currently not the case in Bhutan. A 2011 report by the MOIC talks about a plan for e-waste management under the Chiphen Rigpel project. The report talks about plans for awareness and training, but not about collection, disposal or recycling.

Recycling of e-waste can be a profitable business (called demanufacturing): precious metals such as gold and silver  as well as copper, zinc, iron, nickel, lead and other valuable materials are extracted from the e-waste. Whether such a business can be profitable in Bhutan requires research. In any case, there should be some local solution, otherwise we will all be suffering the consequences of a toxic environment in the near future.

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