From heavy desktop computers to sleek laptops that can fit in your palm, technology has evolved exponentially. It seems like only yesterday that we are using button phones. And today, more than half the population of the world has smart phones. With rapidly increasing technology also comes the rapidly increasing trend of dumping technology. Everybody wants to get their hands on the new tech, but what happens to the old ones? Where does it go? What is E waste? How is it effecting our planet? This article is your one stop guide to give you introduction and solution to E waste.
What even is E-waste
E-waste refers to that phone you dumped when you upgraded to a new one. E waste refers to your desktop that you discarded when you got a laptop. Every electronic has a limit after which it’s functionality either finishes or lessens. After that point,, it needs replacement. I the process of replacement, when that electronic is dumped, it becomes E waste. Old computers, phones, TV, VCRs and fax machines are common types of E waste.
E-waste: An environmental check
Devices are becoming more and more sleek and resultantly, expiring quickly. Even if you don’t dump your whole device, you still have the parts or battery replaced. The part is as much waste as the whole is. Due to this trend of “Fragile Technology”, the amount of E waste is ever increasing. The amount of E waste is expected to increase by 50 million tons in 2020 and there is no visible end to it. As a whole, 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year. And how much of that is recycled? Only 12.5%. Yes, that’s right. The rest ends up in landfills. Where they keep relaxing harmful toxins in soil and water.
Landfills are not the only concern for us. E waste is handled in different way. Only the majority of it lands in landfills. While a part also goes for incineration or just lies around somewhere. In any case, this is harmful. Laptops and Mobile phones contain materials like lead, zinc, nickel, flame retardants, barium, and chromium. When poorly treated, these can be released in the air. Especially lead, if released in air cause major problems to human blood and lungs. Not only that, when electronic products are sitting around in landfills, they release these toxins in groundwater and soil which can cause harms for marine and land life. Equally worse things happen during incineration.When electronics are heated, they released these materials in air and can cause major breathing and lung problems.
That was a pretty gore picture we just painted. And you either must be thinking that you won’t get any electronics now. Or you might be thinking how to tackle this problem. Quitting on a thing which we can’t live without is not the solution. The solution is to see that there is a problem and fighting against it. So the legit question now is: What can YOU do to solve this problem? Little work has been done on tackling this problem but more is yet to be proposed.
Yes! Although it might sound like a bogus idea to you but it still works. When you take you electronics to a recycling unit, they tear the thing apart. Categorize it by what’s recyclable and what’s not! This doesn’t completely eliminate the waste but reduces it in a large number. This might not look like a big thing. But when larger groups of people work for a cause, it makes a difference! Imagine how much collective waste would everyone be avoiding if they worked together! And who knows, this might be one the major solution to E waste.
2- Conscious upgrade
If you are one of those people who have to have the newest technology, then you need to make some conscious efforts. Do you upgrade t new gadgets just because it looks nice? What’s your digital footprint? Is there any way you can upgrade your old gadget to work like new? Are there any ad-ons which can make it any better? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. If your battery is doing some problems, replace the battery and not the whole computer. Don’t dump the whole thing because of a minor inconvenience. Make conscious, environmental friendly choices.
This encapsulates two types of education. One for yourself and one for your friends and family. For yourself, you need to be educated on sustainable technology. When you are buying laptops or any other tech, look at their shelf life and choose the one which can serve you maximum.
The other education is you letting your friends and family know about recycling plants. Help them make more environmentally conscious upgrades when it comes to choosing an electronic and/or upgrading an old one. Tell them the negative impacts of technology hoarding and how they can avoid it.
If you keep thinking that a superhero is going to come along and help you fight this problem, you are wrong! The superhero you are looking for is you! Instead of relying on unreliable recycling plants, go ahead and design your own solution. You know what the problem is, you know what the solution is. You just need to know how to reach that solution. So get on wit it. Take your thinking hat out and search out the solution. A good way to start is by trying to create some filters for lead. Do not limit yourself to just one solution! Think reckless. Create something! If there isn’t a tangible one, then find a solution to E waste.
With this, we hope we have lured you into taking taking action. If you’d like to read more such articles or see the impacts of tech on different industries, make sure to follow our blog series. Or, if you’d like us to write on a specific topic, drop us your suggestions in the comment or email us directly.