A Guide to Understand Meaning & Importance of E-Waste Management

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An average person uses multiple electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, refrigerators, and more. Technology has improved our way of living by providing numerous electrical devices that make our life easier. However, almost every good thing comes at a cost. The electronics we use are, indeed, of immense use but they end up harming the environment. As you might already know, every gadget or electrical appliance has a specific lifespan. No matter how good or expensive your mobile phone or computer is, a time will come when you need to discard it. Computers, televisions, fridges, VCRs, stereos, fax machines, and all other devices stop functioning when they complete their lifespan. So, what do most people do with these unwanted or non-functioning things?

When any gadget or device becomes damaged or reaches the end of its “useful life”, the simplest option is to discard it. However, when you throw electronics, it reaches landfills and has adverse impacts on the environment. Now, you may wonder what to do with those useless old phones and tablets lying in your cupboard. So, let’s find out more about e-waste and solution to dispose of unwanted gadgets safely.

Meaning of E-Waste

Not many people understand the term e-waste. Even if you know what e-waste is, probably you don’t know how to dispose of it off. So, let’s start with understanding the term e-waste. As the name suggests, e-waste is electronic waste that includes products that are not working or have reached the end of their useful life. It includes any electrical or electronic equipment that needs to be discarded. People discard electronics for various reasons. Sometimes, the electronic gets broken or damaged while often it reaches its expiry time. Some people also discard old phones and laptops when a new model is introduced in the market to get access to the latest technology.

E-waste includes both consumer and business electronic devices that are near or at the end of their useful life. Even if a working item is thrown in the garbage, it becomes e-waste. Every few months, a new smartphone, tablet, or laptop is launched and this proliferation of digital devices poses a threat to the planet. E-waste is considered hazardous because these products consist of components that are made of metals and toxic materials. When these digital devices are thrown, they can cause soil, air, and water pollution.

E-Waste Hazards

The most common way of discarding e-waste is by throwing it in the garbage. When the e-waste reaches the landfill, it contaminates the soil and the underlying water. The internal components and exterior parts release toxic materials that get absorbed into the soil and may even reach water underground. If this land is used for farming, the crop could absorb these toxins and cause serious diseases. Soil contamination also reduces its productivity. If e-waste is not disposed of properly, it can also cause air pollution. The improper method of removing useful metals like copper from the device includes dismantling, shredding, or melting which leases fine dust particles and toxic gases. Besides polluting the air, the e-waste that reaches water bodies causes water pollution. The components of electronics contain mercury, lithium, lead, and more that could contaminate the groundwater and harm aquatic animals, plants, as well as human beings.

Meaning of E-Waste Management

Every year millions of tons of electronic scrap are generated. Due to poor recycling program, most of this electronic waste goes into landfills and harm the environment. However, the environmental impact of e-waste can be minimized if these products are reused, refurbished, or recycled. E-waste management is the practice of collecting e-waste, also known as digital rubbish to recycle it. The collected waste electronics are recycled and reused using safe techniques to reduce their adverse impact on our ecosystem. The purpose of e-waste management is to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” electronics.

The gadgets that are in working condition can be donated to charity or sold to someone at a lower price. While those electronics that are beyond repair can be recycled. When electronics are damaged, outdated, or obsolete, throwing them poses several risks. Recycling electronic rubbish not only keeps the environment safe but also helps in obtaining valuable raw materials. Gadgets and digital devices are made of components that contain valuable metals. These materials can be reused for producing new products. This helps in saving energy and resources to extract fresh material from nature for manufacturing new devices.

Benefits of Recycling E-Waste

Recycling unwanted electronics save the raw materials, as well as reduces pollution. Reusing raw materials means fewer greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. As gadgets become old, they can also be refurbished so that the less-fortunate people in your community get access to those devices. Proper e-waste management helps in recycling plastic, metal, glass, and other materials that can be used for manufacturing new products. After collecting e-waste, the products are taken to the recycling center for shredding and sorting. This is a labor-intensive process where tiny pieces of electronics are manually dismantled and sorted to retrieve different parts and materials. Recycling e-waste has several benefits- both environmental and economical. The major benefits of recycling electronics include:

  • Conserving natural resources by recovering valuable materials from old electronic products
  • Protects ecosystem by properly handling, processing, and managing toxic substances such as lead and mercury
  • Generates employment by creating new jobs for dismantling and sorting e-waste
  • Saves landfills and minimizes harmful impacts that could lead to global warming