Recycling e-waste was introduced to protect environmental health and reduce the environmental pollution impacts of incorrectly disposing of e-waste.
According to the statistics, as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical (e-waste) is disposed every single year across the globe. Out of this only 10 to 20 percent of its disposal done properly, or you can say formally recycled. Although, most of the material that is used in making these electronic and electrical devices can be recovered, reused and recycled. This material includes plastic, copper, tin, iron, aluminum, titanium, gold, silver, glass, etc.
It’s hard to believe but 70% of the toxic materials in landfills are comprised of e-waste. Some of the toxic waste found in electronics are lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, barium, antimony, beryllium, brominated flame retardants or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), etc. In Fact, CRT monitors and televisions which are not used anymore but were there in every household a few years back, contained about five pounds of lead in every unit, yikes!
If we look closely at the quantity of e-waste we need to deal with, we have two major reasons –
- Consumers want new things.
- The manufacturers are designing updated and advanced technology, or making products that wear out quicker than you can say ‘that’s so last year’
Consumers are always keen to get the latest models to their favourite gadgets but buying more means more old electronics are going to be a part of this huge e-waste. Therefore, the need for recycling e-waste has become very vital in this era.
Irregular processing of electronic waste in developing countries has caused health and other major problems. For example, piling of landfills with e-waste can cause a drastic increment of landfills, leaking of chemicals out of discarded TVs, laptops, fluorescent tubes leads to water pollution which poison aquatic animals, burning of e-waste releases harmful gasses which can cause brain damage, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and sometimes DNA damage. Last but not least, the contamination of soil which damages the growth of nearby crops.
The positive outlook of e-waste recycling is that you have many recycling options these days. You just need to find your nearest drop off point for e-waste, from where recycling trucks pick up the collected e-waste and transport them to the recycling center. At recycling centers, this e-waste is shredded and segregated. The non-metal parts are sorted into items that can be recycled into newer materials and the metal parts are put into specialised machines where they’re processed so that the metallic can be reused and resold as raw materials.
Plenty of valuable material is found in e-waste. 10-15% of gold can be retrieved from old computers, PCBs and peripherals. As per the UN reports, 7% of the world’s gold may currently be contained in e-waste … surprised? That’s a fact! The report reveals the annual value of global e-waste is over $62.5 billion which is more than the GDP of most countries. Hence, If the recycling of e-waste is given a proper direction, it’ll not only conserve our natural resources but also save a lot of energy and reduce the pollution level drastically on this planet.