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E-Waste Hazards: Challenges and Solutions


E-Waste or Electronic waste is generated from the outdated electronics that are of no use for the users. These wastes encompass computers, cell phones, laptops, mobile batteries, televisions, and everything in between. As humans are totally dependent on technology from their day to day stuff, these wastes are reaching an unequalled level. Therefore it has made the sustainable management of these e-wastes quite necessary.

What is causing the Surge in Electronic Wastes?

There are a number of reasons that are causing this Electronic wastes to become an issue which needs to be handled with sustainable efforts.

  • With every passing day, technology is becoming more and more integrated into humans life, mobile phones now serve as platforms for entertainment, cameras, calendar etc., homes now are equipped with smart IOT devices, TV’s can now be used to watch streaming shows. These advents in technology and short life spans of these products is creating a huge amount of e-waste.
  • Consumers are accepting the benefits of these technological innovations. As consumers are continuing to upgrade and replace their broken obsolete devices, this is increasing the volume of electronic waste equipment. The total of global electronic waste production is estimated to be around 20-25 million tonnes per year, most of being produced from developed countries like China, United States, Europe and Australia.
  • Competition in electronic marketplaces and rapid technological innovation means newer designs are being created and used by people in rich countries. These have created huge amounts of electrical equipment that is still operational but is being dumped as waste.

Impacts of these E-Wastes

  • The electronic items that fulfill its lifecycle by faults or product strategies are scrapped without being reused or recycled. Most of these old electronic items are exported to developing countries especially to India, China, Pakistan, Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria for disposal and recycling. These electronic devices may be used for some time by fixing some of the components but most of them end up being disassembled and then landfilled due to inefficient handling of these wastes.
  • When the E-Waste is dismantled without special handling tools many contaminants reach the environment. Most of the nations where e-waste is dumped have relaxed environmental regulations. The improper regulations of handling these wastes can lead to unconquerable environmental problems. These wastes contain heavy metals such as silicon, lead, cadmium, mercury etc. they seep into the soil and contaminate the groundwater. Uncontrolled burning of these wastes can cause serious deterioration of the ecosystem. The workers in remote areas who handle these e-waste use obsolete techniques without masks, gloves and goggles etc., which have worst effects on the health of the workers.

Solution for Handling these E-Wastes

  • Use of Modular structures: If mobile phones and other electronic devices use these modular structures then users can upgrade a specific component of the device which is getting old according to the latest technology that is introduced for that component. This measure will prevent people from buying new electronic devices everytime they want to upgrade their devices.
  • Strict Governmental Policies for Organisations: The producers of these electronic products should focus on building reusable products. Currently, the electronic companies while manufacturing their products totally lack the concept of ‘recycle and reuse’. From the use of raw materials for the manufacture of this electrical equipment to the disposal of these goods, different types greenhouse gases are released into the environment. These gases increase the greenhouse effect, air pollution etc. and play with the health of the humans. If the environmental policies for manufacturing and disposal of these wastes are made strict, then it will encourage product designers to manufacture equipment that has minimum negative impacts on the environment.
  • There should be a proper fee structure in order to raise capital through the recycling process. As the handling of e-wastes is quite a costly affair for the companies.
  • Take back programmes by Producers: Another approach that should be adopted is that the producers should take back the e-wastes from their consumers by giving them the actual value that could be obtained by that waste. Since these equipment are made intricately, it must be unhealthy and difficult to work on these kinds of wastes in receiver countries where there is very little knowledge to disassemble these wastes.

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