The life of any electronic device or product usually depends on its circuit board. A component which most gadget owners never get a chance to see, unless the casing or shell, that houses it, gets broken.
It’s those mesh of wires, circuit boards and electric components that make or break your device, making them the most integral part of the device. Unfortunately, it’s also the most hazardous part. When you discard said device for disposal, you create e-waste.
E-wastes include, but not limited to:
- TVs, computer monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, cables, circuit boards, lamps, clocks, flashlight, calculators, phones, answering machines, digital/video cameras, radios, VCRs, DVD players, MP3 and CD players
- Kitchen equipment (toasters, coffee makers, microwave ovens)
- Laboratory equipment (hot plates, microscopes, calorimeters)
- Broken computer monitors, television tubes
Inside these devices are components which may contain lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, beryllium, barium, chromium, nickel, zinc, silver, gold and other heavy metals. These are potentially toxic substances that are harmful to all living things and the planet itself.
Effects of Toxins
Various and independent research have been conducted proving the toxic effect of substances generated by e-wastes. According to the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, the following substances are hazardous and may produce the following effects when exposed to high levels or doses:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, trashed computers, TVs and other gadgets make up the fastest-growing municipal waste stream in the U.S. As much as 80% of electronic waste goes out with the trash, while only about 20% is properly recycled.
According to Causes International, every year:
- Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics.
- E-waste is the fastest growing source of waste in North America
- 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide each year
- 5% of all municipal solid waste are comprised of obsolete electronic goods
- In the United States alone, the total volumes of municipal waste increased by only 1.2%, whereas e-waste increased by 8.6%
- Only approximately 11% of e-waste is recycled
The correct disposal of e-waste is essential to a sustainable future.