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Our homes, offices, and other commercial places are all filled with electronic devices. From laptops to smart TV, we use several gadgets and electronics. An average individual has access to smart gadgets like mobile phones, tab, play stations, iPods, as well as many other electrical appliances like fridges, microwaves, and more that are used on a daily basis. Access to these digital devices has transformed the way we live, work, and entertains. As our dependence on these electrical devices is increasing, the problem of e-waste is also escalating. It has become hard to imagine living a day without our gadgets and gizmos. And when something is used excessively, it becomes prone to damage. All electrical devices have a limited lifespan. It means that after a certain time, you need to discard the device. And this unwanted device becomes e-waste. Now a question arises, where does this e-waste go? And are we disposing of it responsibly? Let’s find out!
Meaning of E-Waste
In simple words, e-waste or electronic waste refers to unwanted and discarded electronics. When any electrical or battery-powered product gets broken, damaged, or simply outdated, it is thrown away. E-waste includes gadgets and appliances like a computer, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, TV, fitness trackers, fridge, microwave, etc. A report by the United Nations University revealed that since 2000, the amount of e-waste has increased considerably from 20 million to 50 million tons per year. However, only a little percentage of this e-waste is collected and recycled. It means that more than 80% of the e-waste goes into landfills and creates environmental issues.
When electronics reach the end of their useful life, they are dumped in the trash. Moreover, constant technological advancements mean old gadgets get outdated and are replaced by the latest models. If you don’t resell or gift it to someone, these working but outdated electronics becomes e-waste. As a result, e-waste is growing at an alarming rate and this issue needs immediate attention at both business and domestic levels.
Why Recycle E-Waste?
All electrical devices consist of several internal and external parts. Most of their internal components contain toxic elements such as lead, nickel, zinc, and chromium. When discarded, the electronics go into the landfill and release these toxic materials into the environment. This results in pollution that causes health problems to humans, besides harming the ecosystem. If these devices are burnt, it releases toxic gases into the atmosphere and causes air pollution. On the other hand, disposing of it in landfills means the toxins seep into the groundwater and contaminate both soil and water. It could harm the land, as well as aquatic animals. However, all these problems can be avoided by responsibly recycling computers and other e-waste.
Recycling is an eco-friendly way of turning waste into reusable material to reduce waste and minimize environmental hazards. If your electronic device is broken, nearing end-of-life, or no longer needed, recycling it is the best and safest option. Entertainment gadgets, IT devices, home appliances, medical equipment, and all other electronics can be recycled. Here are the major benefits of recycling e-waste.
Do you know it is possible to recycle more than 90% of components in an electronic device? Mindlessly throwing e-waste not only harms the environment but also wastes precious elements present in them. Electronics have wires and other components made of aluminum and copper that can be reused. If recycled, the metals and other components can be extracted from these devices and reused for manufacturing new products. Manufacturing a product from scratch involves mining to extract metals. Extracting and refining metals and turning them into usable components are expensive processes. However, these valuable materials can be recovered and reused by recycling e-waste. Doing this can save natural resources reduces carbon footprint, as well as lower production cost.
All waste material including electronic waste is thrown in the landfill. Disposing waste material in landfill create several environmental issues. When it comes to e-waste, the hazardous metals present in their components release harmful toxins in the soil. As the amount of e-waste increases in the landfills, more toxins contaminate the soil and underground water. Recycling not only prevents contamination but also saves landfill sites that could be used for other productive purposes such as agriculture and housing development.
The toxic chemicals and metal components like copper, nickel, cadmium, lithium, mercury, and lead can be hazardous to both human health and the environment. When dumped in landfills, these toxic chemicals leach into soil and waterways. It poses a threat to agriculture, livestock, and sea animals. Throwing gadgets and plastic into the sea harms marine life. And when burned, the toxic fumes result in polluting the air. When seeped into soil and water, it ultimately ends up in our food and causes health issues. All these problems can be avoided by recycling e-waste.