With so many chips, how to man­age the e-waste?

Electronics For You - - TECHNOLOGY FOCUS -

If there is go­ing to be a chip in ev­ery ob­ject, what will hap­pen to the e-waste gen­er­ated dur­ing the man­u­fac­ture of th­ese chips, and when th­ese ob­jects (and the chips in them) reach end of their life?

“Of course, there have been con­cerns. But when you con­sider that many of the IC chips are es­sen­tially sil­i­con chem­i­cals, you will re­alise or­di­nary stones and sand have sil­i­con com­po­si­tion too,” quips Ishikawa.

So the is­sue is more about the ma­te­ri­als used for pack­ag­ing the ICs. While ce­ramic-based pack­ing is quite clean, it is the resin mould based pack­ag­ing that is a bit sus­pi­cious in this re­gard and needs to be tracked.

“But, in the case of very tiny chips used for IoT ap­pli­ca­tions with­out much pack­ag­ing (they are of­ten sealed into sheets or some type of pla­nar struc­ture), the is­sue may not be that se­ri­ous,” Ishikawa says. He also points out that the tiny chips at­tached to the ob­jects might ac­tu­ally be ben­e­fi­cial with re­gards to e-waste—as the chip will help trace the larger ob­ject in which it is em­bed­ded and or­gan­ise its proper dis­posal!

Tushar Abra­ham, a former CDAC-ian, ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing en­thu­si­ast and spe­cial­ist in ZigBee wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, says, “The num­ber of de­vices in the mo­bile, per­sonal com­put­ing and ap­pli­ances space is any­way see­ing an ex­plo­sion. Ubi-comp will only in­te­grate th­ese de­vices in a more mean­ing­ful man­ner. Ei­ther way, In­dia is not cur­rently pre­pared to deal with the huge amount of e-waste that is gen­er­ated. An ef­fec­tive e-waste pol­icy will have to be put in place to deal with the cur­rent and fu­ture us­age pat­terns of its 1.2 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion. I be­lieve the Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board is work­ing on such a pol­icy. How­ever, we still do not have com­pa­nies that have the tech­nol­ogy to re­trieve valu­able met­als and other ma­te­ri­als from this e-waste. There­fore it is im­per­a­tive that strin­gent penal­ties are im­posed on pol­luters. Tax in­cen­tives and FDI must be al­lowed to bring in cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy into the coun­try to meet the ever-grow­ing de­mand.”

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