Carbonfree TechTalk #1 (14)
Article

Things You need to know about e-waste

In our daily lives, electronics are all around us. It’s not just smartphones and laptops that we always keep with us, but also microwave ovens, toasters, electric kettles and much, much more. Consider how long the life cycle of such a product lasts. Sometimes, even if we take great care of our equipment, after a certain period of time it becomes outdated, loses its support or newest updates and we are forced to replace it with a newer model. 

Sales of laptops and desktops exceeded 302 million in 2020. It’s not very surprising. It is assumed that a good computer should work without any failures for about three years, and also the fact that we are constantly bombarded with new products and great bargains definitely favours our decision to replace our current equipment even faster. 

Not only smartphones

Let’s start from the beginning, what exactly is electro-waste? Electrical waste is used, broken, defective, faulty, damaged, worn out or simply unnecessary equipment which is dependent on electricity or electromagnetic fields for its operation. 

Therefore, electro-waste includes all types of waste appliances powered by electricity or batteries, starting with the most common ones, such as washing machines, refrigerators, TV sets, radios, tape recorders, videos, dvds, game consoles, computers, telephones, fluorescent and energy-saving bulbs, irons, drills, food processors, etc.

And on the other hand we have equipment which is not for domestic use, such as:  medical analysers, laboratory equipment, transformers, servers, controllers, dispensing machines, industrial tools and power generators.

What happens to the e-waste?

Unfortunately, very few old electronic devices are suitable and recyclable. The huge majority of them are burned or end up in landfills, causing many negative effects on the environment. 

Electronic products contain a number of toxic substances dangerous to human health, with documented risk to the brain nervous system, lungs and kidneys as well as links to certain cancers. Toxic remains can leak and contaminate the soil, air and water, affecting surrounding ecosystems where the local communities grow their food, hunt and fish. 

What can you do about it?

In addition to the regulations that are necessary from technology companies and government authorities, there are several issues in which you yourself can become an aware consumer. You can help reduce the negative impact of the technologies you use by following a few simple rules.

  • Use the technology you have for as long as possible. Instead of opting for a new purchase right away, make sure there are no possibilities for repair,
  • Choose equipment with the least negative impact. There are new energy-efficient options on the market that are environmentally friendly or created using recycled materials.
  • Try not to throw away old appliances, find them a new use or new home,
  • If, however, you have electronics that are not reusable, try to donate them to specialized electronic waste recyclers.

These are just a few examples of things you change in your lifestyle. When it comes to acting for the environment, it’s all about creativity and good intentions. If you have your own ideas on how to deal with electro-waste go ahead! It is important to keep learning about environmental issues and become a responsible consumer.