In today’s information age, it is impossible not to wonder what happens to those superannuated electronics that every individual and business replaces as soon as new products come up on the market. The electronics industry is growing fast at a rate that the planet and people are not prepared to handle as far as electronic waste is concerned. The rapid product obsolescence along with the incredibly growing pace of the industry generates an ever-increasing stream of electronic waste. And with that comes the associated electronic waste risk.
Electronic waste or e-waste incorporates every thinkable electronic product that is considered outdated or old, such as computers, cell phones, and television sets. Waste is produced everywhere in the world by all industrial sectors but electronic waste is growing four times faster than the waste generated by any other field. The amount of electronic waste is dazzling with approximately 35 million tons of e-waste produced in 2010 alone across the world. Yet, merely 15% of the produced e-waste is adequately handled and recycled. What happens to the rest?
The rest of e-waste is what leads to electronic waste risk. The world doesn’t seem to have found a way to efficiently handle electronic waste. While a vast part of electronic waste is stored away in warehouses or basements, the part that is being processed is in fact deposited in landfills or shipped off to developing countries. And that is where electronic waste risk is the greatest, for those people who are so poor that they put their health at risk trying to get value out of those old electronics. Not only do those landfills destroy the environment but they also cause horrific health issues for the people working there or just living in nearby communities.
About Electronic Waste Risk
Electronic waste risk comes from the toxic materials in e-waste, such as heavy metals, polyvinyl chlorides, or brominated fire retardant compounds. These hazardous substances leak into the soil and therefore groundwater, which ultimately result in horrible illnesses and birth defects as well as crop deficiencies and environmental damage.
Electronic waste is, on the other hand, an incredible resource of recycled steel, plastics, precious metals, and aluminum that can be used to manufacture new products across a variety of industries, including electronics industry. Instead, these rich resources are abandoned in landfills destroying the environment and the health of people while the earth is squeezed out of the last drops of non-renewable resources.
Electronic waste risk is perhaps most visible in countries such as China, where the vast majority of e-waste was shipped off. Almost 70% of the world’s e-waste lies in the landfills of China where workers use highly toxic methods to extract metals from electronic equipment. The electronic waste risk for the waters of China is incredible. Shocking pictures of children playing among old electronic equipment or rivers bounded by never-ending heaps of electronic waste are all over the news.
Yet, the fake recycling continues with many companies just collecting equipment to be stripped off and shipped and further create refurbished or hybrid computers for resale. The same companies send off the dangerous parts to developing countries where children and adults smash them apart without any protection. Electronic waste risk for these people can hardly be described in words. It is difficult to even imagine one’s child among the toxic electronic waste.
Get more information about the issues happening with electronic waste.