Electronics Graveyard – Where Do They Go?
Almost everyone globally owns at least one electronic device within their household. With old devices regularly replaced with the latest advanced electronics, a BBC Panorama program says that every year 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide. Within this article, I am going to talk you through what happens to electronic components when they are no longer needed and how you can discard them safely.
Fortunately, many electronic components are recycled when they are no longer needed. When electronic parts are disposed, we aim to recover valuable earth metals which are in demand or in short supply. As well as this, electronic parts can be used in new devices after purification or resold. According to Business Insider, Tokyo 2020 is making the gold, silver, and bronze medals entirely from 78,985 tons of recycled electronics, including 6.21 million recycled cell phones. The environment is a huge topic nowadays, with a target for UK residents to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020, according to Publishing Service Gov, the time is now to do your bit for the environment. Being 20 years old, I have grown up in the era of being bombarded by technology and electronics. However, personally I would have no clue where my nearest recycling e-waste facility is. Despite this, I am aware that if you would like to upgrade your phone, you can trade it in to be recycled (if it is no longer useable / valuable). I did this last year at Apple – I think I received £30-£50 for it to be recycled? This is a great way to earn a little extra money for your own phone as well as contributing to the environment. Many dumps accept e-waste as well, which can be convenient and local.
According to the Telegraph, discarded laptops, electronic goods and mobile phones are now the world’s fastest growing waste problem. A new report found that amount of electronic junk has risen by eight per cent in two years, with just 20 per cent being recycled. It is said that on average each 20kg to 25kg of e-waste is thrown away each year. When an electronic part is discarded into landfills, the toxic metals they contain can cause environmental problems. According to Wikipedia, China receives pollution from both ends of the supply chain: during production process and by allowing electronic waste to be recycled and dumped in the country. Not only is this effecting the environment, but it is also affecting living conditions for residents of that area.
Many electronic parts end up in the ocean which affects marine life and water quality. When an electronic part is dumped in the ocean, it can contribute to destroying marine life by effecting their growth and safety. The electronic waste stays in the ocean for many years as they are not biodegradable. Many e-waste products end up inside fishing nets, oceans beds or beaches.
According to wired, each year the planet generates around 50 million tones of electronic waste, ranging from mobile phones, batteries, engines to light up toys. The United Nations recently estimated the total worth of all that e-waste at $55 billion, thanks largely to the trace amounts of gold, silver, and other metals they contain. Many LIC (Low income countries) have e-waste dumped on their land illegally. Australian National University quotes that ‘India has become the dumping ground for our e-waste, everything from computers, phones, televisions and whitegoods are illegally being exported to India.’. When e-waste is dumped illegally in these countries, they are mined by residents in order to extract valuable materials such as silver and gold. Not only is this very dangerous for children and adults to do but is it also very time consuming. This has become a huge problem for these countries as it not only effects the environment, but also causes political conflict.
Overall, e-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA. When you throw out your e-waste they are transported to landfills, causing toxic materials to seep into groundwater which effects the planet. In my opinion, e-waste will be one of the biggest challenges for residents and businesses worldwide. It is important that everyone recycles and discards of their electronic waste safely in order to promote recycling!
By Amy Leary, Marketing Manager at eBOM.com