• Praveena Tandoc

Electronic Waste

We all use phones, Laptops, Tablets, washing machines, fans and various other electronic devices throughout our lives. And when an electronic product or gadget is released we have the tendency to buy them as they are part of a growing trend. So what do we do with the old devices ? Some might just keep it but never use it and some throw away these gadgets. But Have you ever thought of what would happen when we throw away devices that we no longer use?

Well what happens is that these devices which are thrown away are dumped in landfills some of these would get recycled while most would just remain there. Now what do we call these discarded electronic products ? We call them electronic wastes or e-wastes.

Electronic wastes are electronic products that are discarded because they can no longer be used by the consumer.

According to statistics approximately 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was produced in the year 2019 and only 17.4% get recycled properly.

How does electronic waste affect the environment ?

Electronic wastes are made of very toxic materials that are harmful to us, to the animals and the environment. Toxic materials include; lead, mercury, barium, lithium and cadmium etc.

These toxic materials contaminate the soil because the place where e-wastes lie are subjected to the sunlight which heats the waste up and releases chemicals. These chemicals can then enter water bodies and the air and when it does it affects the environment and the living beings that are in contact with the chemicals. Apart from the toxic materials there are also some valuable materials that can be recycled, valuable materials include gold, aluminium, platinum and silver etc.

As mentioned before, only 17.4% of e-wastes get recycled. The reason is that these wastes are very harmful when in direct contact with human beings. Human beings when in contact with toxic materials can be subjected to diseases and various other health concerns that can cause damage to the skeletal system, birth defects and other complications. So it is necessary that when recycling e-wastes we have to be cautious and take safety precautions.

So what can we do to combat e-wastes?. Unfortunately we cannot fully stop e-wastes from happening because of the increase in demand for electrical products. But what we can try to do:

  • Think about whether you actually need to buy an electronic product.

  • Use your electrical products till it can longer be used

  • If you do have gadgets which you no longer use you can donate it to someone who needs it

  • Most electronic products can be repaired so try repairing them instead of directly throwing them away.

  • Companies who make electronic products must be encouraged to try to re-use the electronic wastes and also collect the valuable resources.