The world is already dealing with a huge amount of waste, its management and efficient recycling, adding e-waste on top of it is certainly huge! As a consequence, the world has begun to deal with the problem of e-waste management efficiently and its impact on the environment. But, before we dwell deeper into this topic, let us get our basics clear!
What is E-waste:
E-waste or electronic waste refers to electrical equipment that is end-of-life, discarded and old. Whenever the work-life of electronic devices or components expire and are no longer in use, they are categorized as e-waste. Some examples of e-wastes that get generated in tons include mobile phones, laptops, fans, microwaves, DVDs, printers, lamps, etc
As the world is getting more technologically advanced, our dependence on electronic gadgets has surged to umpteen times. But, have you paused and thought about what happens when these electronic gadgets stop working? Equipment or gadgets like washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, etc become just chunks of waste after they stop working. Generation Z is all about cool electronic gadgets and therefore e-waste is getting generated in large quantities. As per a UN report, every year, around 30-50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide. What is more dangerous is the fact that a significant quantity of these electronic wastes is not disposed of properly. The question that must be irking your mind is – what threat do these large quantities of e-waste pose, right? Usually, e-wastes consist of substances that are not only to the environment but to human health as they release harmful chemicals.
Therefore, the efficient management of these types of waste is important and is known as E-waste management. The process is defined as the appropriate recycling and reuse of electronic waste from the earth to prevent its toxic effects.
Il-Effects of E-waste:
One crucial point to remember with electronic waste is that if they are not disposed of in a proper manner then it harms the environment and human beings as well. A simple breakdown of ill-effects of e-waste is given below:
Water: Most e-waste contain elements like lead, mercury, lithium, etc and when these elements get mixed and burried into the soil. Consequently these elements leak though the soil and often reach to the groundwater and pollute it. Ultimately, the ground water make their way to different waterbpdies like rivers, streams, lake, ponds, etc
Air: The unplanned disposal of e-waste also causes air pollution. Whenever, e-waste is disposed through the process of dismantling, melting or shredding, it releases minute dust particles that are toxic. Since the dust particles are very light weight, they can travel a long way and harm all kinds of living beings.
Land / Soil: The e-waste is disposed on land contaminate the upper layer of the soil and leak to the ground water as well. The contaminated pieces of land are not fit for plantation. Wondering why? The crops are at risk of getting affected as they are vulnerable to absorbing harmful elements. Additionally, the contained soil can also lose its productivity and become barren.
Methods Used For Disposal of E-Waste:
- The most common method used for disposing e-waste is, landfills. For this method large trenches (or pits) are made to burry all the e-waste. However, this method is not a safe process for disposing the e-waste. The reason is simple! The harmful elements cna easily leak to the layers of soil and contaminate the land and underlying groundwater.
- Acid Bath: The term acid bath refers to a process wherein the e-waste is soaked in the strong solutions like hydrocloric aicd, sulphuric acid or nitric acid. The soaking process helps in removing the metal from the e-waste. The separated metal is re-used making other products.
- Yet again, this is not a safe method for disposing e-waste if the acid solutions are dumped into the water resources.
- After landfills, incineration is also a commonly used process for disposing of e-waste. The e-waste is heated and burned at very high temperatures in incinerators. Consequently, the volume of the e-waste reduces and the energy produced during this process is utilized for other purposes.
- Last but not the least method used to dispose electronic waste is mechanical recycling. It is the safest and most efficient process to dispose the e-waste without causing ant damage to the environment. The process involves dry physical separation to set aside components like Ics, motherboards, circuit boards, etc for recycling. Furthermore, precious metals are also separated form the e-waste lot through PCB recycling machine.
- Apart from these methods used for e-waste management/disposal, we, as consumers can also do our bit. Here is how?
Efficient Usage and Recyling of E-Waste
- Try to re-use electronic components (coming out of damaged electronic gadgets) that are in fine condition and working properly
- You can donate or resell old gadgets or devices that are in usable condition.
- You can also handover the e-waste to a certified firm that handles e-waste management
Above all, try to buy environmentally-friendly electronic devices/gadgets/equipments.