Owing to today’s fast-paced developments and advancements in the field of technology, electronic devices are increasingly gaining the status of ‘modern-day trash.’ What was once considered revolutionary soon became just a mere gadget of yesterday and so has been the story for many years now.
Amid ideations, developments, and the introduction of new technologies, one thing that’s continuously ignored by everyone is managing electronic waste produced during the process.
Discarded CD players, television sets, computers, mobile phones, fax machines, printers, etc., together contribute to e-waste. Although, electronic waste doesn’t necessarily include an entire electronic device. It can even be as simple as the components of electronic devices such as circuits, batteries, PVC tubes, LED’s, glass screens, and more.
How to tackle e-waste?
Over the years, many electronics companies have developed stringent business policies on e-waste recycling. These policies were developed after a report published by UN stated that only 16% of recycled waste was properly treated or recycled. Three things happen to the rest of e-waste:
– Thrown in the landfills or incinerators
– Sold in secondary markets for used electronics or as raw materials to the developing nations
– Assimilated by private companies to refurbish or process them into separate materials and re-sell in the market.
Effects of e-waste on the Environment
Lead: Almost 90% of electronic devices contain high levels of lead, which is significantly dangerous. It is present in computer motherboard solders, television sets, lead batteries and computer monitor glass panels. When lead gets exposed to the environment, it not only contaminates air, soil, and water, causing pollution, but enters the human body via various means and disrupts the functionality of many vital organs as well. Hence, e-waste recycling is a must.
Mercury: E-waste also contains high levels of mercury, which when disposed of improperly causes many respiratory and skin disorders. In addition to this, mercury poisoning is also a primary reason behind most brain damage cases registered across the world. Cables, glass and PVC panels when disposed of in landfills, react with oxygen and moisture and poison the soil.
Beryllium: The burning of e-waste is also claimed as one of the primary reasons behind lung cancer amid workers employed in e-waste management companies. Following strict business policy on e-waste recycling has, therefore, become a necessity today.
Unfortunately, no foolproof techniques have yet been developed to eliminate e-waste completely. This means that it is necessary to improvise before discarding electronic gadgets which are no longer of any need or use.
Two widely used e-waste treatments include recycling and refurbishing of electronic devices. However,
It is not always possible to recycle every electronic device that’s developed and introduced in the market. Check for parts which can be recycled and do the needful.
Refurbishing is a good idea. If an electronic gadget is no longer needed, check with a local vendor and see if the device(s) can be refurbished or donate it to someone who can it fixed and reuse.
While e-waste is unavoidable, it is important to ensure that it is recycled or disposed of in the right manner, without posing any threat to both the environment and human life.