E-waste is a popular abbreviated label. The term is used to describe discarded electronic products, items that have reached the end of their useful life. Too old to function anymore, broken, or simply unwanted, a kneejerk reaction is urging you to throw your e-waste away, just like any other article of rubbish. Please, don’t listen to those urgings. Electronic waste should be recycled.
What is E-Waste?
Just about any electronic device can be classed as e-waste if it’s about to be discarded. An old VCR falls under this category. A fax machine, photocopier, personal computer, or television set, they’re all part of the problem. But what is the problem? What is it about those household and office devices that makes them so hazardous? They were safe to have in a living room or an office copy room, yet now they’re considered hazardous? Well, there are environmental issues in play. For starters, dangerous materials are freed when electronic items are cast aside.
E-Waste Hurts the Environment
Without exaggeration, there really are hundreds of materials and chemicals loaded inside an everyday piece of electronics. There’s lead in the circuit solder, cadmium and mercury in batteries, and brominated flame retardants in printed circuit boards. Granted, modern plastic cases, the ones that house electronic devices, they’re not likely to cause harm, but those lightweight polymers don’t break down. Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, a plastic case could hang around for a thousand years. More importantly, though, the chemicals and heavy metals falling out of a scrapped device do carry real health concerns. Mercury, for instance, is toxic. It cannot be allowed to sink into the ground and enter an area’s local water table.
Heavy Metal Health-Risks
Imagine the old batteries or solder-heavy circuit boards on a normal rubbish heap. Cadmium and mercury are being leeched out of the devices. Lead and who knows how many other heavy metals are close behind the battery waste. Finding their way into the environment, plants die. Toxins are poisoning the land. Of even more concern, those toxins will eventually reach people. Perhaps fish are absorbing the e-waste ejecta, or maybe a field full of veggies has sucked in the toxins. Water is an e-waste carrier, after all, and that life-sustaining liquid goes everywhere.
Even if the ground-leeched waste isn’t dangerously concentrated, it could still poison a young child or a pregnant woman. E-waste is dangerous. It even releases airborne chemicals, which increase greenhouse emissions. Don’t dump those devices, and don’t let them poison your environment. Keep the land and its occupants safe and healthy. By simply taking the smallest effort, make the decision to safely recycle your e-waste.