Every year, there is approximately 50 million tons of e-waste discarded globally. Sadly, less than 30 percent is of the gadgets are recycled. The remaining 70 percent end up in land fills or polluting the environment.
With the volume and need for technological devices increasing every year, the requirement to recycle these products is also growing. Many manufacturing companies are doing their part to make sure they make their devices as environmentally friendly as possible. As consumers, we also have a responsibility to perform electronics recycling. Failure to properly dispose electrical devices for reuse can have many long and short-term consequences.
1. Deplete natural resources
Computers, handheld devices, TV’s, and other gadgets are made using many natural minerals including gold, copper, zinc, nickel, aluminum, and lead. Every time companies build new pieces from raw or unused materials, they are further draining the earth of its elements. There are only so much available minerals on the planet, so the necessity to reuse products is vital. For many metals, once they are used up, they will be gone for good. This could impact future construction of other essential items, not just technology.
2. Poison the Environment
Many of the metals used might be natural elements, but they have toxins that can leak back into the soil, contaminating the area. Devices that do not get recycled, often sit in landfills and other natural habitats, leaking poisons into the earth. The more toxic areas, the less healthy dirt around to plant food, grow trees, or feed animals. This threat will only get worse as the demand for sophisticated products increases.
3. Overflowing Landfills
Many materials used to make our electronic devices, do not break down over time. As more e-waste is discarded improperly, the elements continue to pile upon other garbage, filling landfills with non-useable trash. Hundreds of years from now, those waste items will still be there, under a growing mountain of non-disposable junk. The bigger the waste pile, the more landscape is stolen from wildlife and local foliage.
4. Health Risks
Poorly discarded technologies can cause serious health issues including cardiovascular or respiratory conditions and other diseases. Leaks in the soil contaminate the ground with toxins that can make their way into the plants and food we eat.
Burning the elements to destroy old materials or make new products, adds harmful particles to the environment that can also be detrimental to your respiratory and cardiovascular system when inhaled.
5. Financial Cost
Making products from unused materials is more expensive than making items from recycled materials. The more newer parts needed to build devices, the pricier electronics will continue to be.
6. Data Safety Concerns
Many technology devices contain sensitive information that is not removed from the units drives before they get tossed. This can be dangerous for the previous owner whose personal information is now accessible to anyone who can get their hands on the appliance. Identification theft, exposure of confidential information, and personal photos are not secured when e-waste is thrown carelessly in the garbage.
As technology advances and populations expand, the need for electronic devices will continue to grow as people rely on the newest gadget to conduct their personal and private lives. With less than half of all e-waste items being recycled, the destruction that the electronic garbage has on our natural resources will have long lasting effects on current and future generations.