We live in a “futuristic” digital era, driven by innovativeness and a forward-looking approach. Each day we witness the emergence of a new technology that discards the ideas from the past. This might seem fascinating but unknowingly, technology advancement is resulting into exponential amounts of electronic trash every year. As such, proper e-waste recycling has become more important than ever.
Should We Worry About E-Waste?
The answer is: yes. That is because we are gradually reaching up to the brim with e-waste.
According to a report published by the United Nations in 2019, named “A New Circular Vision for Electronics, Time for a Global Reboot,” people discards over 44 million tonnes worth of electronics every year, while only 20% are recycled in a sustainable manner.
Another study by the Global E-Waste Monitor reveals that in 2019, consumers discarded 53.6 million tonnes worth of electronics globally. This number is up by 20% in the last years. Even India is one of the biggest contributors to electronic waste, generating 3.2 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019. This made the country rank third after China and the United States.
A joint report by ASSOCHAM-EY shows that India is estimated to generate 5 million tonnes of e-trash by 2021. The report further identified mobile phones and computer equipment to be the primary electronic waste generators in India.
The statistics are shocking and clearly indicate why we should be more aware and responsible about proper e-waste recycling.
Importance of E-Waste Management
Lack of proper measures to dispose and recycle e-waste may result in landfills, degrading soil quality and causing pollution. On the other hand, a major part of this e-waste is exported to the unregulated markets, mostly to Asia. These informal sectors collect electronic trash in bulk, retrieve a few metals from the same, and send the rest to the landfills.
To extract the metals from electronic waste, they use hazardous chemicals such as mercury that leach into the soil and damage it forever. This leaching of metals then cause pollution and even contaminate water in the oceans with liquid or gaseous toxins. A study conducted by the SRM University, Tamil Nadu, reveals shocking facts that the soil from “informal electronic recycling sites that recover metals” contain high levels of contamination across major cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The rate at which electronic trash is impacting our environment and our lives, taking effective measures for e-waste recycling has become imperative today.
Top Reasons Why Proper E-Waste Recycling is Important
If the above statistics did not inspire you to recycle your e-waste, the below reasons will definitely do.
Here’s why you should make an honest effort to dispose your e-waste properly:
1. Electronic Waste Contains Hazardous Toxins
Imagine what could happen when batteries containing nickel, acid, mercury, lithium and lead get exposed in the nature. These are hazardous toxins that can wreak havoc on the environment. The harmful chemicals emitted from poorly disposed e-trash can contaminate the soil, air and water. Eventually, these pollutants may cause numerous health conditions such as reproductive and respiratory disorders, endocrine disruption and even cancer.
2. Prevent Landfills
Keeping electronic trash out of landfills is one of the major reasons why you should take e-waste recycling seriously. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all electronic devices and household appliances are recyclable but they can also be most dangerous when dumped in landfills irresponsibly.
Plastic pollution along with glass and heavy metals in e-trash can seep into waterways or pollute the air, causing serious threat to the mankind and the environment at large. Effective e-waste recycling can lower harmful greenhouse gas emissions and prevent landfills.
3. E-Waste Contains Valuable Materials
Most consumers are not aware of the fact that electronic wastes comprise of precious materials, such as gold, silver, chromium, etc., used to manufacture the parts. Unfortunately, when e-waste is carelessly disposed of, much of these valuable metals are lost. Through proper e-waste recycling, these “waste” metals can be recovered, reused and resold.
This can reduce the demand for heavy-metal mining activities and help preserve our natural resources. Recycling can also help lower the greenhouse gas emissions caused due to manufacturing virgin materials.
4. Recycling Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Do you know that recycling your e-waste can significantly reduce greenhouse gas levels in the environment? That is because when you recycle properly, the metals and other parts can be efficiently recovered and reused. Thus, there is lesser need to manufacture the items again and as such, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Even manufacturers are encouraged and rewarded for manufacturing long-lasting, recyclable products.
5. Prevent Global Exploitation and Contamination
“According to our research, #eWaste is becoming the world’s fastest-growing trash stream. A significant (but ultimately unquantified) portion of this e-waste is quietly exported, mostly to Asia.” Via @nytimes.
— UN University (@UNUniversity) July 9, 2018
This is the harsh reality when you do not take proper measures for e-waste recycling. The growing incidence of uncontrolled e-waste movement internationally is causing higher levels of contamination across the world. A major portion of this electronic trash is being moved to third-world countries where traditional disposal techniques are resulting in increased health risks.
When electronic trash is broken down to scrap, this can cause hazardous fumes and toxins that are released in the air and water.
6. Minimise Identity Theft and Data Security Breaches
Irresponsibly discarding electronic devices like computers, mobile devices, etc. can result in data security breaches and identity theft. This is caused because mostly, we dispose electronics that are old but still functioning. If proper e-waste recycling measures are not followed, our personal information can be threatened.
E-waste recycling is a responsibility of everyone. The ramifications of electronic waste can be detrimental to the world. Still there is lack of awareness and negligence among people and businesses. As such, e-waste problem is growing at a rapid pace today.
We hope humans will be more responsible about proper e-waste disposal and recycling, making the world a better place to live in.