E-waste is any electronic equipment that’s been discarded. If an item goes unsold in an electronic store, it will be thrown away. E-waste is especially dangerous due to toxic chemicals that naturally emit from the metals inside it when the electronic device is buried or left in landfills.
The common things found in an e-waste landfills are smartphones, computers, microwaves, fans, televisions, printers, and countless others.
Technological advances are coming at us with a rapid speed that a lot of electronic devices that still work fine are the ones considered waste. For instance, VCR players got replaced when the DVD player hit the market, and then the DVD players got replaced by Blu-ray players, which soon after got abandoned with the introduction of streaming sites. These days every year smartphone improves drastically from the previous year that the only one year old phone is simply discarded to buy the newer model. And because everyone wants the latest tech gadget, there isn’t much possibility of finding buyers when someone tries to sell their old device.
When E-waste gets buried at a landfill, it dissolves in microscopic traces into the gross sludge that permeates at the landfill. Eventually, these traces of toxic materials pool into the ground below the landfill. This is known as leaching. The more E-waste and metals at the landfill, the more of these trace toxic materials show up in the groundwater.
Not only is this bad for anyone using a natural well, but it also hurts the nearby wildlife. This, in turn, causes the wildlife to get sick from lead, arsenic, cadmium, and other metal poisonings due to the high concentration of these minerals.
There are various ways E-waste can harm the environment, the following being some of the major ones:
- Air Pollution: Burning of wires release hydrocarbons in the atmosphere.
- Water Pollution: Electronic devices contain toxic metals like mercury, lead and lithium, which when disposed of improperly, mixes with ponds, lakes and groundwater. Communities that directly depend on these sources of water then consume it unknowingly. These heavy metals are hazardous for all forms of living beings.
- Soil Pollution: These heavy metals enter the food chain as they are absorbed by plants from the soil. These metals not only destroy the plants, but also are then consumed by other living beings, leading to a poisonous food chain.
The majority of the world’s e-waste is recycled in developing countries, where informal and hazardous setups for the extraction and sale of metals are common. Recycling companies in developed countries face strict environmental regulatory regimes and an increasing cost of waste disposal and thus may find exportation to small traders in developing countries more profitable than recycling in their own countries.
There are some ways to reduce E-Waste and the dangers that come with it. The following are some of them:
- Donate old Electronics
Donating electronics to the needy is also a practice followed by many. It not only gives the gadget a new life, but also makes someone else’s lives better.
- Recycle and Dispose of E-Waste Properly
Recycling old electronics allows the expensive electronic parts inside to be reused. This can save a lot of energy and reduce the need for mining of new raw resources, or manufacturing new parts.
- Maintain your Electronics
One of the best ways to save money and reduce e-waste is to keep your electronics well-maintained, with good care, to increase its life.
E-waste is the largest form of waste on the planet and one of the most dangerous for the environment and all its habitants. Therefore, there is a need for public awareness regarding the hazards of electronic waste and to take steps to prevent the same.