Advancement of Technology Leads to Electronic Waste
Technology is the modification and bringing in use of machines, new techniques, systematic tools and methods. Technology helps in solving a problem, finding of solutions of existing issues and problems, completion of tasks and achievement of goals. In this era of information technology and technological advancements, where a new born child talks about Wi-Fi connectivity, and 4G coverage is available in the outskirts. Where a child holds a mini computer at school and husbands are reading newspaper on their electronic tablets while sitting on the toilet seat. Meanwhile the wife is searching a recipe on her minicomputer standing in the kitchen. While everything has advanced at home from our cooking, cleaning, communication to reading, writing and even sleeping, technology has improved in each aspect of life.
What is Electronic Waste (E Waste)?
Electronic waste (e-waste) or technological garbage also known as technology waste is identified by the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) asa category of waste consisting of the equipment at end of an electronic gadget or appliance’s life. This electronic waste is usuallyof equipment working with electricity or via electromagnetic fields, as well as production equipment (mainly computers, printers, mobile phones, digital cameras, refrigerators, electronic games or televisions).Electronic waste or technology waste can be described as the appliances which are discarded or destined for resale or recycling. The technology or e-waste includes the parts of used or invalid electronic devices which are of no further use. Technology waste (e-waste) can include used transistors removed from devices, wires and cables, plastic, magnets or metal.
Part of the technology waste (e-waste) can be: Refrigerators, freezers and other cooling equipment, air conditioners, radiators and heat emitters with oil,other largeand small appliances, IT and telecommunications equipment, consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels, televisions, monitors and screens, Lighting fixtures (except for domestic lighting), gas discharge lamps, led lamps, professional luminaires, electrical and electronic tools (except stationary industrial tools major), toys and sporting and leisure equipment, medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products) and monitoring and control instruments and other similar things.
Why Electronic Waste (E Waste) Is A Problem?
There are various damages to health and the environment generated by several contaminants present in electronic waste, especially mercury, which causes damage to the brain and nervous system. Lead, which is a part of the E waste enhances intellectual impairment, as it has harmful effects on the brain and entire circulatory system. In addition, cadmium, causes reproductive failure and possibility even of infertility, among other things; and chromium, which causes problems in the kidneys and bones. PVC plastic is also widely used in electronic appliances. A mobile phone, for example, contains from 500 to 1000 different compounds. These dangerous substances cause pollution and expose workers to health perils during the manufacture of these products.
Also, the placement of such e-waste in the trash, or when touched bythe hands of the pickers, is threatening the health of human beings and animals and endangers the environment. Because this waste contains hazardous components such as lead in cathode ray tubes and welds, tubes arsenic in older cathode ray antimony trioxide fire retardants, etc. While the mobile phones, the monitor screensor TVs at home do not create risks of contamination. But when mixed with other trash and broken, these toxic metals are released and can be fatal. Though the life of the equipment is estimated at ten years butafter three to four years it already becomes obsolete due to the requirements of new programs and new versions of operating systems. This constant technological development coupled with market logic generates a permanent replacement of electrical and electronic devices that are consumed domestically.
In the early 2000s, part of the waste exported was more easily presented as an opportunity reusable material but, often unusable. Many children disassemble, sort and burn the electronic waste to retrieve metals like copper. (Lammers) Other non-recovered debris is released into the environment or burned releasing many products in air, water and soil, toxic to the environment and humans. China has also become the cemetery for electronic waste since the 1980s.
The new features and models of devices; increased accessibility by decreasing costs and constant supply of “novelty”, make these products becoming obsolete more quickly hence increasing the e-waste. Purchase of new computer equipment is so cheap that we abandon or store a computer when it has not yet reached the end of its life, to buy a new one. We ignore the enormous ecological cost that involves both production and the disposal of computers or other electronic devices. Electronic waste of computer equipment generates a series of specific problems. For example, they are toxic, because they include toxic components such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Selenium and arsenic are also a part of this deadly waste. When these compounds are melted they release toxins into the air, land and water.
E Waste Recycling
- There is always a value in used or wasted technology that we don’t really understand, almost 70 percent of the technological waste (e-waste) can be recycled. Toprevent this health and environmental harm due to the e-waste, the waste should be managed and recycled efficiently. There are many possible solutions to these issues of environmental damage by the technological waste.
- Some possible solutions include E Waste recycling of components that cannot be repaired. There are companies that collect and recycle these devices at no cost to owners of unused equipment. We should promote the reduction of hazardous substances used in certain electronic products sold in each country.
- There should be an extended producer responsibility in which after use by consumers the producer is the product bearer and responsible of disposing the product. This drives them to improve designs to make E waste recycling and reuse easier.
- In some countries people think about the whole life cycle of a product before buying it. (Maya) It is fine to people who behave responsibly before consuming a product, not after using it. Even some products have a fee to resolve the final exposure of these materials.
- The companies themselves should have a system of e waste recycling of their own products, thus benefiting the entire planet. Recognizing that electronic waste is a source of pollution and danger to human, e waste recycling events arebeing organized gradually in many countries specially to recover the precious metals contained in the waste. In theUnited States or France, e waste recyclinghas been made mandatory and waste must be supported by chains and special businesses.
- An international regulation, the Basel Convention requires exporters of hazardous waste to notify the recipient the type of waste.The European Union requires electronic manufacturers to take charge of processing their own waste. Despite this, much electronic waste leaves the developed countries to underdeveloped countries. An entire sector was set up as in Accra, Ghana.
- The spare parts and the pieces of the wasted or obsolete technology can be reused in developing new and better technology which is a policy that the government and the companies should imply. The companies should initiate policies to buy old technological waste from consumers and reuse it in creating and developing new technology which would clean most of the waste from the society. (Lammers)
- Secondly the companies should adopt a policy of refurbishing old technology like phones and other appliances and bring them into the market with new features which would decrease the amount of waste. Dell, Samsung and some other companies have taken initiative to buy back old technology and reuse the parts. (Maya)
- Other than that, all the electronic waste can be collected from collection points in every neighborhood and towns and then they should be bought down to micro pieces where metallic and nonmetallic stuff should be separated and sold again for reuse. Nowadays the companies are developing and producing gadgets which can decompose if buried in soil within 2 to 3 weeks. These technologies use decomposable materials in order to save the environment from pollution and toxins, which is a great e waste recycling technique.
Measures to save our environment from E Waste Damages
But all these responsibilities aren’t for the companies only.We are also responsible of e waste recycling, management and saving our atmosphere. We should evaluate the number of gadgets or appliances we already have at home and avoid buying a duplicate with the same features again. We should make a list of the gadgets we have and should sell or give away any extra one. We should always ask the shopkeepers for the buyback policies before buying a new gadget which would help us selling them our old one. We should donate our idle electronics to people who would really use it rather than burying them in the cabinet. E waste recycling and reusing is important to save the nature’s resources.