I rifiuti dell’era digitale

15 febbraio 2007.

Pubblicato su Altrenotizie

L’allarme arriva da Greenpeace, attraverso un rapporto intitolato Cutting Edge Contamination, e riguarda l’inquinamento delle acque derivante dal processo produttivo di computers ed altri dispositivi elettronici. E’ il processo stesso di produzione ad essere inquinante, e questo lo si sa da sempre. La novità del rapporto di Greenpeace risiede piuttosto nel calcolo preciso dell’impatto ambientale provocato da questo tipo di industria. Le fabbriche dove vengono prodotti circuiti elettronici acquistano dai loro fornitori grosse lastre di bachelite ricoperte di rame. Le lastre vengono poi tagliate per assumere le giuste dimensioni. Su di esse viene disegnato lo schema del circuito finale e infine un lavaggio a base di sostanze acide elimina il rame al di fuori del disegno, lasciando sulla lastra di bachelite il circuito finale, quello sul quale verranno poi montati e saldati i componenti. Sotto accusa è proprio il lavaggio acido, altamente corrosivo. Secondo il rapporto, le industrie non hanno remore nello scaricare in pozzi e terreni il refluo dei lavaggi. Il risultato? Un elevata contaminazione di fiumi e falde acquifere in ampie zone che circondano le zone di produzione dell’hardware.

Le analisi condotte dai laboratori di ricerca dell’associazione ambientalista hanno rivelato forti concentrazioni di sostanze tossiche come i PBDE, un gruppo di ritardanti di fiamma bromurati, e gli ftalati, usati per ammorbidire le sostanze plastiche.
Come se non bastasse, anche altri composti tossici sono stati trovati in prossimità delle fabbriche di semiconduttori, come composti volatili del cloro e metalli pesanti.
Per Greenpeace emerge la stringente necessità di reale trasparenza nell’industria elettronica, in modo che che i colossi del settore si assumano la responsabilità dell’impatto ambientale dei loro prodotti. Per denunciare la mancanza di trasparenza, fanno notare che – ad esempio – attualmente non si sa precisamente quali fabbriche di componenti riforniscano i marchi più noti di computer,
fotocamere e videocamere.

Nelle Filippine, in uno dei siti esaminati da Greenpeace, l’acqua potabile conteneva concentrazioni di cloro anche 70 volte superiori ai limiti fissati dall’Agenzia statunitense per l’ambiente. In altri casi si sono trovate forti concentrazioni di rame nell’acqua, un metallo responsabile di calo della fertilità o della crescita negli organismi acquatici. Nelle acque di scarico dell’IBM a Guadalajara, in Messico, è stato trovato tra i composti tossici il nolifenolo, potente interferente endocrino, nonostante le dichiarazioni dell’azienda sul rispetto dell’ambiente: “Stando alle dichiarazioni dell’Ibm”, si legge nel rapporto, “nessuna fabbrica dell’azienda rilascia sostanze inquinanti nell’ambiente ma proprio nelle falde di acqua potabile vicino all’impianto Ibm di Guadalajara abbiamo trovato altissime concentrazioni di rame”.
Anche i lavoratori di questi impianti sono potenzialmente esposti a tali sostanze tossiche.
L’indagine ha riguardato stabilimenti che lavorano per IBM, HP, Intel, Sony, Sanyo e altre aziende hi-tech, soprattutto in Asia ed in America Centrale.

“Finora ci eravamo interessati all’inquinamento prodotto dalle discariche di rifiuti elettronici, ma ora che scopriamo cosa succede nella fase di produzione, iniziano a emergere i veri costi ambientali dei prodotti” sostiene Kevin Brigden, ricercatore dei laboratori di Greenpeace.

Si tratta di problematiche diametralmente opposte. L’impatto ambientale della produzione è alto per un problema di costi. L’industria produttrice di elettronica potrebbe benissimo convogliare i reflui in tubature separate, ed inviarle ad opifici per lo stoccaggio ed il trattamento dei rifiuti liquidi. Questa ovviamente è la soluzione ottimale per l’ambiente, ma diviene un costo ulteriore per l’industria, un costo del quale non intende farsi carico, poiché è il costo dei rifiuti, non il costo di qualcosa da immettere sul mercato, che possa quindi dare guadagni. In questo giocano un ruolo anche i consumatori, alla ricerca perenne di costi sempre più bassi, che non includano i costi ambientali.

Il problema delle discariche di rifiuti elettronici rimane principalmente un problema organizzativo. Soprattutto in Paesi come l’Italia, non si è ancora pensato a nessun programma di riciclaggio di tali rifiuti e spesso neanche allo stoccaggio definitivo. Il cittadino che deve smaltire i propri apparecchi elettronici obsoleti spesso non trova a chi rivolgersi, e solo in certi casi trova chi se li prende, spesso
a costi esorbitanti. In pratica, l’industria del “trashware”, nome con il quale si indica l’elettronica da buttare, i dispositivi vecchi e spesso rotti, qui in Italia non è ancora decollata, ed è caratterizata da poche iniziative coraggiose.

Coraggiose perchè una volta prelevate le parti ancora in grado di funzionare e quelle riparabili, di tutto il resto non si sa cosa farne, non esistendo impianti adeguati né per il tombamento né per il riciclo. Così, anche in una città come Roma, in un quartiere residenziale, può accadere di trovare di sera addirittura non uno ma due monitor abbandonati accanto ad un cassonetto per i rifiuti indifferenziati.

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