Electronic waste or e-waste is a term used for electronic products that have become obsolete, and have reached the end of their useful life. As technology is advancing at such a high rate, many electronic devices become “trash” after years of use. In fact, all the categories of old electronic items contribute to e-waste.E-waste is created from anything electronic: computers, TVs, monitors, mobile phones, PDA, VCRs, CD players, fax machines, printers, etc. Obsolete electronic devices are rapidly filling landfills around the globe. Australians are among the highest users of technology, and e-waste is one of the fastest growing types of waste. Of the 15.7 million computers that reached their ‘end of life’ in Australia in 2007-08, only 1.5 million were recycled – that’s less the 10%. (As per Australian bureau of statistics report)
Most electronics that are improperly thrown away contain some form of harmful materials such as beryllium, cadmium, mercury, and lead which when added up in volume, it’s a threat to the environment becomes significant. Besides adding harmful elements to the environment, improper disposal of e-waste is a recycling opportunity lost. Almost all electronic waste contain some form of recyclable material, including plastic, glass, and metals.
The solution to the e-waste problem starts with providing proper education. If we can educate people about it, there is a strong possibility that their habits will change accordingly. Currently, people are more aware of paper and generic waste recycling but e-waste, not so much.
ADVANTAGES OF ELECTRONIC WASTE
E-waste has many valuable recoverable materials such as aluminum, copper, gold, silver, plastics, and ferrous metals. In order to conserve raw materials and the energy needed to produce new electronic equipment from natural resources, electronic equipment can be reused and recycled instead of being landfilled. When we talk about electronic waste, it is a serious issue that requires immediate attention at the corporate and domestic level. In general, an average person purchases a new electronic item every 4 to 5 years and throws away older ones.
IMPORTANCE OF E-WASTE MANAGEMENT
Economic globalization, innovation and easy access to technology has changed our lifestyle in a major way by providing us with electronic products which are used limitlessly to make our daily lives more communicable and comforting. The unrestrained use of electronic products has led to the huge generation of e-waste. People today are unaware of what exactly should be done with e-waste; Right now, raising awareness and proper management are crucial.
- First of all, it’s important to understand that e-waste dumping is causing a serious threat to health and the environment. E-waste is a complex composition of toxic substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, barium, antimony and valuable materials like gold, silver, nickel-based alloys, titanium based alloys, and cobalt-based alloys. In total, there are 1000 different components comprising of60 elements found in e-waste.
- So what happens in the landfills? When the e-waste is dumped in landfills, the toxic heavy materials which are non-biodegradable and flammable gradually seep out and pollute the water resources and soil. When e-waste is incinerated, it contaminates the air to an extent which can lead to serious health issues.
VALUE OF E-WASTE RECYCLING
When the e-waste is recycled, 10% to 15% of gold is retrieved from old computers, circuit boards, and peripherals. As per the United Nations report, the metals found in e-waste are 40% – 50% more precious and rich than the metals mined. These reports clearly display a message to the world that if e-waste is reused properly we could address the scarcity of metals and excessive need for mining in the long run.
BENEFITS AND ADVANTAGES:
- Conserves natural resources:
Recycling recovers valuable materials from old electronics that can be used effectively to make new products. As a result, we save energy, reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth.
- Protects your surroundings:
Safe recycling of outdated electronics promotes sound management of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury.
- Helps others:
Donating your used electronics benefits your community by passing on ready-to-use or refurbished equipment to those who need it.
- Creates Jobs:
E-waste recycling creates jobs for professional recyclers and creates a new market for the valuable components that are dismantled.
- Saves landfill space:
E-waste is a growing waste stream. By recycling these items, landfill space is conserved.
WHY BUSINESSES NEED RESPONSIBLE E-WASTE RECYCLING ??
Conservation Of Natural Resources And Energy
As mentioned above, there are plenty of valuable materials found in electronic waste. These materials can be extracted and reused in the manufacturing of new products. This facility precludes the involvement of countries in extracting and mining natural minerals from the earth’s crust which consumes ten times more energy than the energy used in recycling.
Every year the process of mining releases 1.5 tons of contaminants into the water and air, hence if recycling is done the need for raw materials and mining will come down and will help in conserving the biodiversity.
Protection Of Health And Environment
If visualized carefully the whole scenario beginning from IT asset disposition to e-waste recycling bestows a healthy, wealthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. If recycling is given primary importance, mining activities will reduce significantly. This reduction will, in turn, cut down the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases resulting in a clean, pollution-free environment. So there is no space for hazardous substances to affect us.