Why is e-waste a problem?

January 20, 2011

The World’s love affair with electronic gadgets will increase multi fold in the years to come. This is why e-waste is becoming a big problem. Since new iPads, notebooks, e-readers and smart phones are hitting the market every day, it’s difficult to ignore the temptation to continually buy the latest technology. Embracing new technology poses a serious question: “What do we do with the outdated ones?”

Statistics says that every year 1 million tonnes of e-waste are discarded by householders and commercial groups in the UK alone. Only a small portion of such rubbish is getting properly disposed of or recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or shipped to developing countries. The country’s mounting e-waste is a life threatening issue from both health and environment perspectives, so it is important for us to dispose of our unwanted e-waste properly.

What items are WEEE? Electrical waste is not just your PC’s or laptops; it also includes digital watches, fridges, TVs and toys. The huge array of different product types and the components make e-waste management a difficult task. The list goes on and is growing every year meaning e-waste is becoming a bigger problem for the environment as time goes by.

If worn out materials are recycled, they can be used as raw materials for new products. This process helps conserve resources, energy and money.

A study in 1998 estimated that of the 6 million tonnes of electrical equipment waste produced in Europe caused the loss of the following resources:

  • 2.4 million tonnes of ferrous metal
  • 1.2 million tonnes of plastic
  • 652,000 tonnes of copper
  • 336,000 tonnes of aluminium
  • 336,000 tonnes of glass

Since electronic waste contains many toxins, we should not trash them. If e-waste is send to landfills, chemicals can leech into groundwater and poison water systems. Sending them to an incinerator is also harmful since all the poisonous compounds get emitted into the air, causing health risks of their own.