We live in a society that is hungry for technology, consuming all of the latest gadgets despite the devastating environmental consequences. Our waste electronics are polluting drinking water, harming ecosystems, depleting the Earth’s natural resources and creating a huge demand for mining. As both consumers and inhabitants of the Earth, we hold a certain responsibility to reduce these environmental hazards to the best of our abilities. Keep reading to learn more about e-waste, its deadly risks and how you can dispose of your electronics properly.
What is e-waste?
E-waste (electronic waste) refers to technology that is no longer working or wanted. From your cellphone to your dishwasher, it covers a whole range of electric and electronic equipment.
The environmental hazards caused by improper disposal of e-waste can be briefly described as follows:
- Air Pollution: Burning of wires release hydrocarbons in the atmosphere.
- Water Pollution: Electronic devices contain toxic metals like mercury, lead and lithium, which when disposed of improperly, mixes with ponds, lakes and groundwater. Communities that directly depend on these sources of water then consume it unknowingly. These heavy metals are hazardous for all forms of living beings.
- Soil Pollution: These heavy metals enter the food chain as they are absorbed by plants from the soil. These metals not only destroy the plants, but also are then consumed by other living beings, leading to a poisonous food chain.
Did you know that a growing body of clinical studies has shown concern about the potential threat of e-waste to human health? The poor methods used by unregulated backyard operators to process and recycle e-waste materials expose the workers to a number of harmful substances. Processes such as breaking down components, chemical processing, and incineration are used and result in direct exposure and inhalation of toxic chemicals. This affects workers especially in developing countries, where safety equipment such as gloves, face masks, and ventilation fans are virtually unknown. Long-term exposure to these toxic chemicals can cause neurological disorders, bone loss, an increased risk of cancer and damage the kidneys, liver and nervous system.
How can I help?
Electronics will always produce waste, but the problem of global e-waste (electronic waste) has rapidly increased in recent years. As consumers, we bear a the responsibility of making good and smart purchases.
“Reduce, reuse and recycle” can also apply to e-waste. In 2016, the estimated value of recoverable materials in global e-waste was $64.6 billion, but only 20 percent of it was properly recycled to enable recovery of the valuable materials. With smart purchasing and good maintenance, you can reduce your generation of e-waste. Reuse still functioning equipment by donating your old electronics or selling it to someone else. Lastly, remember to recycle products that are broken beyond repair. As a leading Canadian recycler, Manville Recycling will collect your e-waste and process it properly. We accept monitors, CD players, DVD players, stereos and much more. For more information and to view the full list, visit https://blog.manvillerecycling.com/what-we-collect/e_waste/.