Why is e-waste a big concern?

electronic waste

57.4 million tonnes of e-waste will be produced globally in 2021, according to the UN, with each person on earth producing an average of 7.6 kg of the stuff. If your question is still unanswered by these numbers, let’s continue our investigation in this blog – electronic waste disposal near me.

The terms “e-waste,” “electronic garbage,” “e-scrap,” and “end-of-life electronics” are frequently used to refer to used electronics that are close to expiring and are dumped, donated, or sent to a recycler. According to the UN, electronic waste is any object that has been thrown that has a battery or plug and contains harmful and poisonous materials like mercury, which can seriously endanger both human and environmental health.

Environmental Risks

E-waste can be harmful, is not biodegradable, and builds up in the land, air, water, and other living things in the environment. Toxic substances are released into the environment when methods like open-air burning and acid baths are employed to recover valuable elements from electronic components. Along with high levels of contaminants like lead, mercury, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, and arsenic, these practises can also expose workers to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which have been linked to irreversible health effects like cancer, miscarriages, neurological damage, and lower IQs.

According to the paper, inappropriate management of e-waste is leading to a large loss of scarce and important raw materials, including precious metals like neodymium, which is essential for magnets in motors, indium, and cobalt, which are used in flat-panel TVs (for batteries). Rare earth minerals are mined in a polluting manner, thus almost none are retrieved from informal recycling. However, it is challenging to extract metals from e-waste; for instance, overall cobalt recovery rates are just 30% (despite the existence of technology that could recycle 95% of it). However, the metal is highly sought after for batteries in electric cars, smartphones, and laptops. Additionally, recycled metals require two to ten times less energy to melt than metals made from new ore.

In addition, compared to mining gold from the ground, mining used electronics results in 80% fewer carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gold. 7% of the energy used worldwide in 2015 was used for raw material extraction. This indicates that increasing the use of secondary raw materials in electronic products could significantly aid in achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Climate Change

It is also important to take into account how climate change is impacted by technological products. Every product ever generated has a carbon footprint and causes global warming that is caused by humans. Ten tonnes of CO2 might be released during the production of one tonne of computers. When the carbon dioxide released across a device’s lifetime is taken into account, it mostly happens during production, prior to customers purchasing a product. As a result, reduced carbon production procedures and inputs (such using recycled raw materials) and product lifetime are crucial factors in determining the overall environmental impact.

Lack of Recycling

Global recycling rates are poor. Only 35% of e-waste is formally reported as being adequately collected and recycled, even in the EU, which leads the world in this area. The average amount worldwide is 20%; the remaining 80% goes unrecorded, with much of it ending up as garbage and being buried for generations. E-waste cannot degrade biologically. The global electronic sector is severely hampered by a lack of recycling, a problem that gets worse as gadgets get more numerous, smaller, and complicated. Currently, extracting minerals and metals from various types of e-waste and recycling them costs money. The remaining amount of e-waste, which consists primarily of plastics mixed with metals and chemicals, offers a more difficult issue.

E-waste is not a brand-new issue. It first appeared in the early 2000s. But according to recent statistics, the amount of e-waste is increasing more quickly than ever. Humans are expected to produce 74 million tonnes of electronic waste yearly by the year 2030. Richer nations frequently export the problem, leaving underdeveloped nations to bear the costs. It’s time for each of us to take responsibility for this rising issue by learning what we can do and putting sustainable solutions into practice at home and in our communities. We hope electronic waste disposal near me was informational.