Electronic waste - an emerging threat to the environment






Electronic waste - an emerging threat to the environment

Imagine living without a Smartphone, laptops, desktops, printers, TV, AC, microwave, shavers, cameras, washing machine, dishwasher, fan, and other such electrical and electronic products.  It could be not even in the worst nightmare of people now.  Such is the dominance of electrical and electronic devices in human life without which even day to day functioning is not possible.  Half the world population now has a Smartphone, and two-third has a mobile phone.  That is billions in numbers and all with short life span to replace within years or even months.  But what happens to all these discarded devices? It becomes WEEE or wastes electrical, electronic equipment or e-waste or electronic waste.  And the worst part is the numerous toxic substances in this electronic waste never degrades and causes the biggest threat to the environment now.

Stats to prove the emerging threat to the environment:

Gone are the days of people worrying about the environment due to the ill effects of fossil fuels and plastics.  Now the new norm is electronic waste.  It is because to manufacture one computer and monitor it takes 539 lbs of 245 kg of fossil fuel, 48 lbs or 21 kg of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water.  More of such stats to prove the emerging threat to the environment include

  • Of the electronic waste discarded in landfills release certain toxins in the air and an only extreme quantity of lead alone damages kidneys, blood, central and peripheral nervous system of humans
  • Water containing lead is 2,400 times higher than safe levels, and apart from lead, the other toxic chemicals in electronic waste include dioxins, cadmium, mercury, furans, PCB, beryllium, vinyl chloride, antimony and the list goes on and on.
  • Every year 20 to 50 million tones of electronic waste gets disposed worldwide and only increases
  • The value of the electronic waste produced every year is 62.5 billion USD which is more than the GDP of most of the countries
  • One tonne of electronic waste has more gold than in a tone of gold ore and recycling of e-waste to get that gold is more accessible than getting it from the gold ore

What happens to the growing tones of electronic waste?

With no stringent laws to control electronic waste even in developed countries like the US, they are shipped to countries in Asia and Africa. It is only the European Union which has enacted new laws to control the electronic waste emerging threat to the environment.  But with use and throw electrical and electronic equipment and now even the smart phones, computers and others, the e-waste is only growing every year and dumped in seas and landfills across the globe.

The following are the four emerging threats to the environment due to electronic waste

  1. Billions of tones of water mostly groundwater are sucked to make electronic equipment which could have disastrous environment conditions
  2. The non-degradable e-waste seeps toxic chemicals into the land and sea to cause a threat to not only humans but also to both land and sea animals
  3. When the e-waste is burnt, it damages the atmosphere air for making it unfit for breathing purpose to have more toxic substances than oxygen
  4. Many toxic chemicals used to make these electronic equipment cause a lot of diseases that could cause not only loss of lives but also physical disability in many ways

Hence it is time for everyone to use the electronic equipment rightly and for the government to bring in strict laws and ways to control this emerging threat by electronic waste to the environment.

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