t was recently revealed that almost two-thirds of e-waste in Europe does not end up in official collection and recycling programs. This data was released in a report from the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade project, which is funded by the European Union. This equates to more than six million tonnes of e-waste a year. 3.15 million tonnes of this e-waste was recycled in ways that fall outside of the law, 1.5 million tonnes was exported, 750,000 tonnes was simply thrown in the bin, and 750,000 tonnes was scavenged. But, why do you need to be concerned with this? Read on to discover three pivotal reasons.
A lot of people do not realise how expensive e-waste is. When you simply chuck away electrical and electronic gadgets, you are throwing away rare materials that are often useful and in short supply. There are also local people in developing nations that are handling e-waste to try and make some money for their families. These countries do not have the facilities to treat waste properly, and thus they can end up seriously ill as a result. There are also reports of child labour in regards to the treatment and handling of e-waste, especially in parts of Africa and Asia. Therefore, one of the most compelling reasons for recycling e-waste properly is to stop this from occurring.
The second reason why you need to concern yourself with e-waste is because of the severe health issues that can arise if you don’t. When e-waste is simply dumped onto landfill sites, highly toxic elements leak out, and this can cause significant damage and result in health issues. You need to remember that metal does not degrade, and this means that it contaminates both the groundwater and the soil, thus bio-accumulating in the creatures that live in them. This is something that is, again, particularly bad in developing nations. The likes of Ghana, Nigeria, India, and China suffer badly because malpractices linked with treating and dismantling e-waste in an incorrect manner occur excessively, including widespread general dumping and opening burning of plastic.
E-waste is extremely harmful to the environment
On a final note, you obviously need to be concerned with electrical and electronic waste because of the damage it is doing to the environment. As mentioned earlier, some of the e-waste you are throwing away is valuable, but then you have a large proportion that is very toxic and dangerous. This includes waste with hazard elements, such as printer toner cartridges, printed circuit boards, batteries, and asbestos. Perhaps one of the most surprising statistics is that 70 per cent of 1.3 million tonnes of undocumented e-waste that was exported could have been used again, as it was functioning equipment. If you have an item that still works, or components that could be valuable, the last thing you should be doing is throwing them in the bin.
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When you consider the three points above, it is not hard to see why e-waste is something that should concern everyone. Start being more responsible with e-waste from today!
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