As we all know people used to talk about environment on 6th June, UN world environment Day. Though it has passed by in this year, still we are in globally recognized problem caused by garbage as UN notices.
Out of numerous environmental hazards that humans done on earth, Electronic wastage raise to #01. Dispose electronic waste in environmental friendly manner and manage the e-waste are the responsibilities of those who use electronic devices. As tech guys, we should concern this matter positively.
E-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipments(WEEE) means the disposal thing of electrical and electronic devices and their parts after use. Computers and TVs, mobile phones, digital cameras, printers, flash drives, DVDs, air conditioners and such things includes to this category.
How large is this dump?
UN collaborates with other environmental conservation parties and organized a project called Solving the E-waste Problem(StEP) to solve this e-waste problem. This project estimated the amount of garbage on earth up to most reliable number.
According to UN papers in 2017, there are about 65 million metric tons of unmanaged e-waste dumps on earth. When it compares with pyramids in Egypt, 11 times larger than the great pyramid of Giza. We know that each and every country doesn’t throw away the same amount of e-waste. As a country, America dispose of 10 million metric tons of e-waste. But whole Europe throw 11 million metric tons. China and India are dispose of 3 million from each,Russia and Brazil have 4.5 million and Mexico has 1 million metric ton dispose of e-waste. Other countries all over the world throw away less than 1 million metric ton of e-waste. In Sri Lanka there were 87 metric tons of e-waste according to steps records in 2014. (www.step-initiative.org/Overview_Sri_Lanka.html)
Most of the e-waste is consist of iron and steel.There are also 21% plastic, 13% non ironic metals, Platinum, Palladium, Silver, Gold, Copper and such valuable metals in small amounts. Out of 13%, 0.1% consist of those metals. Rest of 12.9% include Mercury, Barium, Cadmium and other toxic substances. These are also effect to cancers.
As e-waste consist of such toxic materials,there should be a better and protective way to recycle.Best and most accepatble way to recycling e-waste is ingest the metals which were used to make electronic devices and rest can be burnt or used to bury when landlifting(ඉඩම් ගොඩ කිරීම). I must say, this way is much cheaper than ingesting metals from land.
What poor countries do with e-waste?
According to Basel Convention on the Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal, it is prohibited to exchange e-waste between countries. But most of the established countries transport e-waste as shipping goods to poor countries. Because of such illegal movements Asian and African countries filled up with about 42 metric tons of e-waste. China, Africa and India are the countries from Asia and Ghana, Nigeria from African continent.
Poor countries take those e-waste devices in their day today use if they can repair them or somehow work properly. If those devices are out of work, people used to ingest metals by burning, crushing or hammering .
Electronic devices are not harmful when they are working properly. When they become waste, if e-waste used to land lifting, it may cause environmental hazards. Time pass by, some chemicals in e-waste gather under the soil and cause damage to water resources and living beings.
If electronic devices burn in open air un-protectively, to get metals such as gold, silver and platinum, some toxic gases may enter to humans and toxins enter to food cycles. Lead and Cadmium are the other things that cause harm. It prevents the growth of bones in young people and in children. As well as chemicals, gases such as dioxin cause cancers. Lead and PVC gases when burning them may cause harm to human organs.
European countries take most reliable decisions to manage e-waste. Manufacturers, sellers and exporters are the people those who should responsible for the e-waste dumps. If these people follow a better way to recycle, this matter does not harm this much. It should be a free service to people. Finally there should be a better way to collect and recycle e-waste.
There are some laws to console this e-waste hazard. Their opinion is manufacturers or local distributors should take responsibility about e-waste. Customers free from that laws to some extent. Though these rules and regulations take snail’s pace, e-waste dumps increase rapidly on earth.
Image sources: https://www.google.lk/e-waste