All about E-Waste Disposal Vol.2
With the growth of technology, many new companies are stepping in the market with new and/or new versions of the products like laptops, computers, cell phones, televisions, music players, etc. Disposal of computers and cell phones is the major segment of electronic waste. As technology improves the lifespan for electronic devices such as computers and cell phones becomes shorter. In developed countries, these electronics have an average life span of two years. In the United States, there are more than 300 million obsolete computers. Although most electronic devices that are thrown away still have parts that are reusable.
For many who bought one, the device replaces a perfectly good, recent model. True, after a couple of years an iPhone might start showing signs of wear: The home button sticks or the glass might be cracked. Some of these defects can be repaired, although few choose repair over upgrade. Others are caused by planned obsolescence. For example, Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 10, makes extensive use of haptic features that require an iPhone 6s—a device released just last year.
And so people replace things: smartphones, tablets, phablets, laptops, LEDs, LCDs, DVD players, portable music players. Whether from breakdown, slow-down, or just the availability of a newer model, people discard electronics at the slightest inconvenience. It’s not just laziness or lust for the future, either; the economics of gadgets encourages disposal. In some cases, for example, buying a new printer is cheaper than buying a set of new ink cartridges.
The increase in consumption of electronics has two major adverse ecological effects. First, it significantly increases mining and procurement for the materials needed for the production of gadgets. And second, discarded devices produce large quantities of electronic waste. That waste could be reduced through reuse, repair, or resale. Whether it ever will be is an open question.
Electronics have always produced waste, but the quantity and speed of discard has increased rapidly in recent years. There was a time when households would keep televisions for more than a decade. But thanks to changes in technology and consumer demand, there is hardly any device now that persists for more than a couple of years in the hands of the original owner. As per the report of ENDS Europe agency, built-in obsolescence increased the proportions of all units sold to replace defective appliances from 3.5 percent in 2004 to 8.3 percent in 2012. The share of large household appliances that had to be replaced within the first five years grew from 7 percent of total replacements in 2004 to 13 percent in 2013. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 89 percent of young adults (18 to 29) own smartphones; 41 percent of the older generation owned VCRs at the same age.
The widespread use of semi-conductors and entrance of new players from Brazil, China, and India has made the manufacturing of portable devices relatively inexpensive, and the difficulty, inconvenience, or high cost of repair has made new purchases more economical. Manufacturers have also used software updates to privilege newer models of smartphones and computers, invisibly pressuring consumers to buy new devices just to maintain parity of experience. And companies have also increasingly ended support for older models or the operating systems that run on them.
Who is to blame? Consumers certainly have a role to play in the increase of e-waste—they’re buying the goods, after all. But manufacturers have given people fewer and fewer viable ways to keep older electronics functioning effectively. In the process, profits from device sales are way up, along with the satisfaction of these companies’ shareholders. It’s an impasse, one group pointing to the other as the ultimate source of electronic dross.
The conditions at e-waste processing facilities are dire. Devices have to be laboriously manually sorted and then disassembled. Furthermore, used electronic devices contain hazardous materials like mercury, lead, silver, and flame-retardants. They also contain small amounts of valuable raw materials, such as gold, copper, titanium, and platinum; one ton of electronic waste might yield 200 grams of gold. This sometimes makes the business of e-waste recycling unviable. Manufacturers have a role to play here, too: for example, by assisting in the creation of e-waste recycling centers in developing countries rather than using them as dumping sites.
Article source: theatlantic.com
With new cheap devices, society has reaped tremendous benefits. This explosive growth in the electronics industry, however, has led to a rapidly escalating issue of end-of-life (EOL) electronics or e-waste. In landfills or primitive recycling operations, toxic materials can be released from old electronic devices into the environment.
E-waste is growing, and with that surge comes the need for effective electronics recycling programs. According to a January 2019 report from the World Economic Forum, E-waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, with an estimated waste stream of 48.5 million tonnes in 2018.
People still seek information on TV recycling, computer recycling, and other programs that will help them responsibly get rid of unwanted equipment while minimizing any risk of data or identity theft.
The safe recycling of electronics is receiving increased attention from policymakers, industry, and consumers alike. This trend is good news because many consumers are still not sure how to safely dispose of old computers, smartphones or other electronic devices. According to one report, nearly 75 percent of old electronics continues to be stored in households because of the unavailability of convenient recycling options.
This article looks at some of the basic questions, such as defining e-waste, exploring why it is important, how consumers can recycle, state legislation, and the issue of the international shipment of hazardous e-waste.
What Is E-Waste
These EOL electronic devices, also known as e-waste and e-scrap, includes such items as dated computer equipment, stereos, televisions, and mobile phones. Such things can often be refurbished or recycled, yet a significant amount still finds its way to the landfill. Soberingly, only 20% of global e-waste is formally recycled the remaining 80% often incinerated or dumped in landfills. “Many thousands of tonnes also find their way around the world to be pulled apart by hand or burned by the world’s poorest workers,” the World Economic Forum notes.
“This crude form of urban mining has consequences for people’s wellbeing and creates untold pollution.” In the U.S., the recycling rate is closer to 25%, with much of the e-waste being shipped offshore.
Why Is Electronics Recycling Important?
- Rich Source of Raw Materials Internationally, only 10-15 percent of the gold in e-waste is successfully recovered while the rest is lost. Ironically, the electronic waste contains deposits of precious metal estimated to be between 40 and 50 times richer than ores mined from the earth, according to the United Nations.
- Solid Waste Management Because the explosion of growth in the electronics industry, combined with a short product life cycle has led to a rapid escalation in the generation of solid waste.
- Toxic Materials Because old electronic devices contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, proper processing is essential to ensure that these materials are not released into the environment. They may also contain other heavy metals and potentially toxic chemical flame retardants.
- International Movement of Hazardous Waste The uncontrolled movement of e-waste to countries where cheap labor and primitive approaches to recycling have resulted in health risks to residents exposed to the release of toxins continues to an issue of concern.
Article source: thebalancesmb.com