Technologies have meant to look forward to ease our life, and we are enjoying the process. But do we ever try to think, what’s the cost of the enjoying that we are paying? Along with the benefits, what are the drawbacks of using the technology? And though these benefits fit in today’s context but are we somewhere compromising the future?
One of the costs that we are somewhere tending to pay is E-waste.
What Is E-Waste? And What’s The Real Problem?
E-waste, as the name, suggests itself “electronic waste”, a waste that is generated from electronic devices and is completely unfunctional and economically unrepairable.
So if we want to label something as e-waste then it should be an electronic device plus also fulfills the criteria of being unable to function and repair.
For example, your smartphones when become completely unfunctional and cannot be repaired further then we consider it as e-waste which is just like other waste that needs to be recycled.
The real problem is, somewhere moving head to head with technology we have left nature behind. The gadgets that are built today are often designed to obsolete swift rather than to function in the long run. And that what creates an adverse effect on nature. Our frequent switch to new smartphones ends up piling in the landfills, from where the harmful chemicals route their way to us. And this is a matter of stress because if we look at the harmful toxic chemicals found in cell phones then lead, mercury, and arsenic are found in the circuit boards, batteries, and microchips of cellphones. Which when informally discarded in the environment, results in the vulnerability of our body parts.
But the question is how my unfunctional TV or laptop can adversely cause harm to the environment? Or indirectly me?
How E-Waste is Harming Our Environment And Us?
The electronic devices contain harmful chemicals such as Lead, Mercury, Beryllium, Gallium Arsenide, Cadmium, etc. And when such devices are improperly discarded in the environment, the harmful chemicals inside them easily get exposed to nature and results in the contaminating of soil, air, and water. Eventually, the sources of our and all creatures’ survival are harmed by e-waste.
Let us understand it in a better way
Now suppose you in exchange for your old devices bring a new TV from your local scrap dealer. You are happy because you earn a big margin profit in exchange for your TV but so the seller is even after purchasing at a loss.
Why? Because what would probably have happened after you have dropped your old devices in the shop is, the shopkeeper has loaded that material and transported it to the factories where generally those e-materials are not been discarded under the proper recycling process. But been shoved in incineration and other non-scientific, dangerous methods, just to extract resources and metals from it.
We sell our e-waste to an unauthorized waste collector or street radiwalla, those scrap dealers don’t recycle the old devices with a scientific approach but end up piling the e-waste in the landfills. In landfills, e-waste mixes with other waste and becomes more dangerous to the environment.
Till the process of being discarded through Incineration, the electronic waste has already done a lot of damage to the environment. Their toxic materials seep into groundwater, affecting both land and sea animals. And eventually affects the health of the people who majorly live in the vicinity of the landfills.
Throughout the process of incineration, harmful heavy gases such as Hydrocarbons, Brominated dioxins also take place in the air (inhaled by us and animals), degrade soil ( the source of our food), and water (that comes into our houses).
Some harmful impacts of the exposure of chemicals are
Exposure to Mercury damages kidney and brain functionality.
Exposure to Arsenic damages the skin, liver, nervous, and respiratory system.
Now if you are thinking that as we have read in our textbooks earlier about the three Rs ie reuse, reduce and recycle. So what’s the problem with e-waste? We can tackle it without reducing our consumption of new technologies
Yes, you have read correctly that recycling waste can nullify our e-waste impact on the environment and that’s true. But what’s not true is that’s not how things work. Almost all the e-waste on the earth is recyclable but only 12.5% is recycled. And by the above-stated brief, we have understood how informally and recklessly e-waste is discarded in the name of being recycled.
Most of the process of e-waste discarding has been done by informal sectors, only a few organizations operate for discarding the e-waste properly. That somewhere supports that Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled. (The annual value of global e-waste is over $62.5 billion, more than the GDP of most countries. More than 44 million tonnes).
The other bitter truth is most developed countries such as the US, the UK illegally dump and commercially ship their e-waste to developing countries like China, India, etc. Where the market of informal e-waste operates. And by fact, these countries don’t hold a good record in managing e-waste recycling. Informal recycling markets in China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and the Philippines handle anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of the world’s e-waste.
For every waste, the 3R works.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
We consume new upbringing technology and eventually, it consumes us by adversely affecting our environment. Hence what’s the most effective and efficient way to battle this problem is to limit our overconsumption of technology. Particularly the urge of switching smartphones is frequently pacing up the speed of e-waste in the environment. On one hand, though they are connecting and constructing the world on the other side, they are disconnecting and destructing the environment.
As per a report, we currently generate 50 million tonnes of e–waste every year – around the mass of 125,000 jumbo jets. But this figure could be improved by extending the life of our gadgets. If your old device can be economically repaired then don’t quickly switch to the new gadgets, repair and use them.
If you don’t want to work on your old pc or gadgets anymore then don’t throw them rather donate them to others.
The more effective this R is the more difficult it is to implement. Since this process is not in our hands aggregately but still the choice of whom to give e-waste for recycling is. Try to approach certified recyclable companies that recycle the e-waste properly.
Technology would never be a problem if it hasn’t bruised nature. The technologies are fast forward and are meant to be. But the pace we are moving and matching with new technology and updates, we are also heading towards an apocalyptic era.
Since we are growing with technologies and somewhere have the urge to exist with the new updates hence the e-waste in such conditions becomes huge to tackle.