Positive and negative effects of e-waste
Electronic waste or e-waste constitutes the electronic products that have become unwanted or reached the end of their usable life cycle. It is a subject of matter for politicians and business developers as countries across the globe generate a million tonnes of e-waste every year. Studies show that developed countries have been dumping their e-waste in the developing countries to gain beneficial economic incentives. Continuous shipping and unsafe disposal in these nations are contributing to environmental and health problems. The unstoppable demand of advanced gadgets mounts the accumulation of this discarded material to a great extent. This article addresses the positive views regarding e-waste and causes of global concern.
Positive effects of e-waste:
Here are some benefits that e-waste provides in various sectors.
Entrepreneurs, recyclers, and business owners believe that effective e-waste usage can provide employment to millions of job-seekers. Recent figures show that e-waste recycling sector generates maximum jobs and impacts poverty reduction. As it constitutes some precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper, jobs in metal extraction have a considerable potential for employment generation.
Acquiring rare earth metals
Advanced and high tech products use several metals including some rare earth metals. The rising demand has led to the shortage of critical raw materials used in the electronics production and manufacturing. E-waste contains numerous components that find use in the production of several electronic products. These components constitute cobalt, gallium, indium, and magnesium among others. Urban mining grinds e-waste into a powder and put it into a flotation plant to separate components and pumped air segregates the precious metals into layers. Such an effectual process of acquiring metals from e-waste helps sustain earth surface.
An alternative raw material
The e-waste contains numerous components which find use in producing new devices. It is a cost-effective means for any electronic company which performs mass production. Various research departments and laboratories work on e-waste to carry significant experiments.
It is an essential source of low-cost or free technology for young people. They can learn to manufacture electronic devices and contribute to the advancement of science and technology by producing unique gadgets. In developing countries, e-waste can provide digital education to poor children who lack access to the advanced computers. Numerous NGOs helps in bridging the digital gap among different countries by constructive e-waste application.
By deploying internet cafes in rural areas, local government bodies can exploit obsolete computers in providing digital services to the rural population. It is a big step toward achieving the objectives of central schemes such as Digital India. Mobile classroom is an efficient means of assisting rural communities to access IT and internet. Such establishments reduce e-waste by reusing it for welfare services.
Negative effects of e-waste:
The concern regarding e-waste is rising due to following factors.
Risk to human health
Electronic scrap components contain harmful elements such as lead, cadmium, or beryllium. Recycling of such e-wastes may increase the risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage in adults. In young children, it affects the development of the brain and nervous system. Other health problems generate from the primitive methods used for extracting metals. Skin disease, lung cancer, brain damage, and abortion are common in areas surrounded by discarded waste.
E-waste represents a dangerous route for data breaches, corporate espionage, and sale of personal data. Every electronic device carries some amount of private and exclusive information. A reach of wrong hand to such instruments may jeopardize the entire business of a company.
For environmentalists, it is a catastrophe that pollutes soil, air, and water by hazardous chemicals and metals. Dumping and burning of e-waste in the landfills enlarges polluted air in metro cities. Workers extract precious metal and put the remains into the water bodies. When useless, people throw their phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices into the rivers or burn them in open space. In addition to humans, such pollution endangers the flora and fauna.
With technology advancing at the exponential rate, the need for an hour is to find sustainable, environment-friendly and cost-effective ways to manufacture new products. In addition, recovery process and recycling of e-waste will diminish the need for mining of new raw materials and reduce the burden on government. A solid policy and strict regulation to industries can rescue human health and environment from the e-waste fright. At present, a resolute international convention seems a productive step toward achieving the desired goal of the safer earth.