Electronic Waste or E-Waste is a massive global problem – especially since the phones we are attached to, the refrigerator we cannot live without, the laptop we use to make our money with is not built to last. The truth is, we are dependent on numerous electric and electronic devices, and living a comfortable life without them seems near impossible.
As they are not built to last, it is inevitable that these gadgets will lose their utility value. And, therefore, inevitable that we replace them with new ones. A vicious circle, right?
But what happens to old electronics? They turn into E-waste, which is being generated at alarming rates. Although a part of it can be recycled, a portion of it still is extremely hazardous and toxic for the environment.
Hard Truths About E-Waste
E-waste is presently the quickest developing waste stream on the planet, with an expected waste stream of 48.5 million tons in 2018, most of which comes from used mobile phones, televisions, stereos, printers, cameras and batteries. It is astounding to know that this amount equals to almost all the aircraft built till date or around 4500 Eiffel Towers!
How Is It Affecting The Environment?
Most electronic items encompass a mix of extremely toxic elements like lead, zinc, nickel, flame retardants, barium, and chromium. When materials like these are released into the environment, they can cause serious problems to the human body, especially blood, kidneys, and the nervous system. When incorrectly disposed, the chemicals from e-waste can even leach into our soil and water supplies.
In case of heating or burning e-waste, numerous toxic gases are released into the atmosphere that results in ozone layer depletion and breathing problems. And when e-waste is dumped in landfills, it severely affects the groundwater, crops growing on that land and the animals eating it.
So, What Can We Do About It?
We will cover the specifics of what you could do with your e-waste in the next instalment of our Sustainability 101 posts. However, here’s a list of things you could do with your e-waste.
- Don’t put electronic objects in the trash like food items
- Reuse, resell or donate
- Buy environment-friendly gadgets
- Go to genuine e-waste recyclers
As we have said throughout our Sustainability 101 series, you don’t have to be Greta Thunberg to make a difference. Small steps can have a huge environmental impact so do your bit today. Share this series with your friends and family, and let us know in the comments what sustainability topics you would like to see us tackle next.
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