Yes, you read it right, e-waste is the next big thing to ponder upon after different types of waste generation and pollution. E-waste is basically the waste that arises from electronic products which are not of any use to the buyers and are thrown away from homes or offices because of it being non-functional. It is not of any sentimental value to the user and hence ends up in landfills. It leaves a tragic impact on human health and is very contagious. With time passing by, the list of e-waste items keeps increasing and has reached such an unimaginable mark. With the rise of new technology all the existing products become antiquated and of no use to the users. This rising problem needs a manageable solution that is devised by e-waste management. A lot of new companies are currently working on reducing and managing this type of waste that is hazardous to live beings. Today, a lot of organizations are working on waking the harms of disposing of e-waste.
E-waste stands for Electronic waste, it is that waste from electronic products that have been terminated from the use by the user. The broken and working electronic items constitute this type of waste. Used electronic items that are meant to be reused, resold, or recycled are also considered to be electronic waste. E-waste is very toxic to humankind because of the type of chemicals that are released from the natural leaching of the metals inside the waste materials. E-waste is a very different type of waste as compared to normal waste as it can contain some type of precious materials that are recoverable.
How are the environment and human health impacted
As described earlier, electronic waste items when disposed of are very harmful to the environment as well as the overall health of humans. Precisely, when this kind of electronic waste gets warmed up, toxic chemicals are released from the metals in the leaching process. These chemicals are released into the atmosphere and end up intoxicating it. The toxins that are produced can increase the risks of cancer if they are inhaled by the nearby residents or the local workers. Primarily, the disposal of e-waste leads to land pollution and air pollution. The unsubsidized electronic waste can end up in toys for children. Adverse effects on human health and the environment can be observed if informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries is being carried out. This waste is non-biodegradable and causes soil pollution and in turn, can pollute the crops. Cadmium, a metal used in chip resistors and semiconductors, when exposed to humans can damage the liver and kidneys. Some other metals that are very harmful to human health are lead, mercury, and beryllium.
What items to be considered as e-waste
E-waste consists of a wide spectrum of items to be included from various fields of technology. Domestic home utility items that are included are television, DVDs, video game systems, smart lights, microwave, heaters, fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, etc. Communication devices like cell phones, smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, and hard drives constitute a major part of electric waste. Treadmills, heartbeat monitors, lamps, remote controls for various devices, massage chairs, and heating pads are also part of this kind of electronic waste. Offices and medical institutions also discard e-waste in the form of printers, copiers, cables, cords, imaging equipment, dialysis machines, audio and video equipment, and IT servers
E-waste management- A solution
E-waste management is a technique to control the rising problem of electronic waste disposal and production. It can be carried out at an industrial as well as domestic level. It can be implemented by specific waste minimization techniques and sustainable product designs. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and Recover are the basic principles of electronic waste management. Generally, the people working to recycle waste are from poor backgrounds and are not literate. Doing this type of work poses a threat for them as well as their families. Recycling and disposal should always be carried out by authorized recyclers for avoiding damage by the adverse effects of the wrong disposal. Therefore, e-waste management is striving to be a better and effective solution to all electronic waste-related problems. There are regulations from higher authorities devised for proper and authorized management of e-waste
What is the reason for the increase in e-waste?
Products these days usually come with a minimal lifetime as it urges companies to make newer and better products that can be sold at good prices. On a consumer level, electronic items are on the way to being treated like disposable and temporary items. The new generation and the changes in technology have bent our minds into believing that we need to be competitive with the type of gadgets we use. This is the reason why we tend to overlook the usual life span of a product and do not make the utmost use of it. Due to the information and technology revolution, newer products have emerged and obsolete products have ceased to be of any use. The change in status has also been a consistent reason for the increase in electronic waste.
India’s ranking in e-waste production
In 2019, globally 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste was produced. In 2020, it was 55.5 million metric tonnes and is constantly increasing at an alarming rate. According to statistics, India stands in the third position of electronic waste generation and disposal. Approximately 2 million tonnes of electronic waste is generated by India annually. Out of all metropolitan cities in India, Mumbai produces the highest amount of e-waste which is due to its high population which is rising every year. The production of e-waste after Mumbai is followed by Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, and Ahmadabad. The percentage of e-waste that is recycled every year illegally by unauthorized people in India is about 95%. Independently, workers recycle this waste which in turn makes the enforcement of regulations on them much more difficult. China and United States stand in the first and second positions respectively. Overall, Asia generates 24.9 million metric tonnes of electronic waste on annual basis.