E-Waste and technology
E-waste has been defined by several organizations and authors. According to the Basel Action network , E-waste ” includes a wide and developing range of electronic appliances ranging from large household appliances, such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, cell phones, stereo systems and consumable electronic items to computers discarded by their users”.
The European directive 2002/96/EC defines it as “Waste electrical and electronic equipment, like assembly items, and items which can be consumed, plus components which are part of a product as they are being manufactured”.. All these definitions are centered on the fact that E- waste is any waste that is generated from electrical appliances and technology which is deemed obsolete.
The world is rapidly embracing technology, and advancement in technological devices. The use of machines, electronics and electrical equipment, computers, and other forms of technology have become the norm in all aspects of life in the current society. The increase in the use of technology and electronics has made most tasks, and activities to be accomplished in the shortest time possible. However, these technologies pose a greater environmental problem in terms of their disposal; something that was not factored in during the manufacturing and distribution of electronic, electric equipment, computers, and other technological devices. The technologies depreciate at a fast rate, and eventually become obsolete, thus, creating a huge accumulation of E-waste-waste.
According to Levin (2011), these electric devices are mainly made of heavy metals. In such instances, he E-waste-waste accounts for almost 70% of the toxic wastes that are found in major landfills. These heavy metals and other materials are mainly carcinogenic, hence, may cause cancer. The danger is accelerated by the high rate of the generation of these wastes as a result of rapid change in technology, which results in the rendering of existing technology obsolete. The E-waste- waste that is generated has so far resulted in contamination of ground water and soils. The technologies are currently becoming more and more portable due to the use of batteries which are mainly made of Nickel, Cadmium or Lithium Ion which, are harmful to drinking water if not properly and safely disposed. It is evident that the change in technology results in more E-waste-Waste; this E-waste-waste is not always disposed in the right manner, therefore, becoming hazardous to the health of humans and to the surrounding vicinity . Most developed countries dump electronic wastes to the developing countries in Africa and Asia. These wastes eventually are dumped in soils, water and air thus causing water, soil and air pollution. Other methods of disposal include acid baths and burning which are still unsafe to people and the environment. The best way of reducing these hazards is to recycle, reuse and also minimize the level of these heavy metals in the devices during the manufacturing process. This has been undertaken by various companies such as Apple Inc..
In conclusion, the reduction in the amount of E-wastes begins from manufacturing; the manufacturing companies should reduce the amount of heavy metals in their products. Additionally, these companies should produce quality products that do not easily lose value and become obsolete, therefore, reducing the chances of replacements and eventually reduces the amount of E-waste-waste generated.
Earth 911. (2008). E-waste-waste: Harmful materials. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from earth911: http://www.earth911.com/recycling/electronics/e-waste-harmful-materials
Engebretson, M. (2008, October). Electronic Waste. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from bloglib: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/enge/ewaste/
Gaidajis, G., Angelakoglou, K., & Aktsoglou, D. (2010, August 31). E-waste-waste: Environmental management and current Management. Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review, 193 -200. Retrieved November 19, 2012
Levin, H. (2011, June). Electronic Waste (E-waste-waste) Recycling and disposal - Facts, statistics and solutions. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.moneycrashers.com/electronic-e-waste-recycling- Disposal-facts/
Volti, R. (2008). Society and technological change. New York: Worth Publishers.