What Is E-Waste and How to Deal With It?

Do you know electronic waste adversely impact almost every system in the human body? Our computers and most electronics contain numerous toxic materials such as mercury, lead, zinc, nickel, flame retardants, barium, and chromium which are injurious to our health, as well as environment. Of all these harmful elements, lead is one of the most dangerous ones because if it gets released into the environment it can damage human blood, kidneys, and nervous system.

Today’s tech-savvy generation is obsessed with electronics and gadgets. With increasing competition in the market, companies are racing to bring the newest version of a phone or computer. The technology keeps on improving and people ditch their older model for the latest update, without thinking about where do those old devices end up.

What is E-waste?

When our electronics become old, broken, or obsolete, we discard them. This discarded electronic is known as E-waste which is just as dangerous for the environment as paper or plastic. The electronic waste generated from all sorts of electronics, such as computers, mobile phones, hard drives, television, printer, food processors, cameras, etc. poses several environmental threats, if not disposed of properly. Improper disposal of these electronic wastes affects the soil, air, and water components of the environment.

What are the impacts of E-waste?

The toxic compounds present in electronics such as Mercury, lead, and Beryllium does not organically break down and can be absorbed by the atmosphere. Due to improper disposal of e-waste, their toxic materials seep into groundwater, affecting both land and sea animals. Since these hazardous wastes negatively impacts flora and fauna, the entire food chain gets affected. These toxic chemicals are also responsible for birth defects and damaging the brain, heart, liver, kidney and nervous systems of the human body.

What is the right way to discard used computers and drives?

At the time of discarding our computers and other electronics, we have four options: recycle it, donate it, return it to the manufacturer or throw it in the trash. In most of the cases, people go for the last option, that is, throw it away. However, this poses a serious threat because our computers and other gadgets contain highly toxic materials which must be properly disposed of and recycled. Thus, the right way to discard your used computer is to take it to a certified recycling facility.

Our old computers can be reused, resold, salvaged, or recycled. There are many waste management companies that participate in electronic recycling programs. The process of recycling begins with shredding the device to separate plastic from metal. After this, the recycling facility performs a more in-depth sorting and use an overhead magnet to remove any iron or steel from the waste. The metal obtains from the process is either reused or recycled.

In case your computer or hard drive crashes, you will throw it after recovering your precious data. However, parts of this failed device can also be recycled. In fact, the recycled device can have numerous uses. Some parts of your old battery can be reused in a new battery, while the plastic from your computers can be used for coating a new device. The copper and metal retrieved from your device can be used in producing any other device and some metals can even be used in jewelry and automotive parts. So act wisely and start recycling!