With the increasing usage of electrical and electronic equipment, electronic waste or e-waste is becoming a global concern. What is e-waste and how can we tackle this problem?
What Is E-Waste?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines electronic waste or e-waste refers to electrical and electronic products that have reached the end of their “useful life”. E-waste may be generated by the following activities:
● Technological upgrade and innovation, e.g. gadgets that are outdated and hence thrown away.
● Changes in lifestyle, e.g. throwing away old electronic equipment to be replaced with newer ones.
● End of the intended usage, e.g. disposal of battery and broken cables.
Why Must We Care About E-Waste?
Despite being a growing global concern, many are not yet aware of how e-waste should be handled. However, improper handling of e-waste poses great dangers to humans and the environment.
E-waste contains plastics and toxic chemicals that may release pollutants such as lead, mercury, dioxins, and many more. They can enter the human body through contaminated water sources, consuming animals that have ingested the pollutants, inhalation, or skin absorption.
These are some health problems that may be caused by such pollutants:
● Developmental problems
● Respirative problems
What Can We Do About E-Waste?
It’s not enough to blame everything on the government. E-waste exists because all of us use electronic devices. Therefore, we as a society must be responsible in our usage of electrical and electronic equipment.
What can we do about e-waste, then? It all boils down to the principle which environment enthusiasts always tirelessly repeat to us – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or 3R. The principle of 3R applies to all kinds of waste including e-waste.
Here are some of the things that every one of us can do to address the issue of e-waste.
- Reduce: Maintain and Repair Your Current Gadgets
Every year new models and gadgets are launched. The temptation to just buy a shiny brand-new phone is something we have all experienced. However, if we buy a new device every year, it means we generate major e-waste annually as well.
We are led to believe that we have to constantly replace our devices once new updates come out. But most devices can actually last for a long time with good maintenance, regular software or operating system updates, and a little bit of repair. And even simply replacing the screen and giving it a new cover might already be effective to rejuvenate your old phone.
- Reuse: Sell, Donate, or Give Away Your Old Gadgets
You can always sell your old electronics on online platforms such as eBay for some extra cash. Alternatively, you can donate them to charities. That way, your devices can be used by other people.
- Recycle: Recycle Your E-waste
Sometimes you really need to throw away your devices, such as when they’re broken beyond repair. Make sure they are recycled properly, rather than throwing them away with other garbage. Find the nearest organization that manages e-waste and send your waste to them.