Positive and Negative Impact of Recycling E-waste

When it comes to waste, it is essential that we recycle the same and dispose of the rest, in a safe manner – the same truism applies to e-waste as well.  E-waste is a term that is used to refer to various electronic devices, peripherals, accessories, wires, batteries etc. The fact is that we generate over a billion tons of e-waste each year and this has become a huge problem, which has even started to impact the environment. It is essential that we take a closer look at some of the positive and negative impact of recycling e-waste so that we can better understand why it is essential.

Positive and negative impact of recycling e-waste

The Positive Impact of Recycling E-waste

  • Environment: By recycling e-waste, you get to conserve energy by reutilizing old parts and build new devices from the same. More importantly, you help to prevent any hazardous substances from impacting the immediate environment which is why products such as batteries need to be disposed of safely rather than bunging them into a trash compactor. Electronic products often contain toxic materials such as mercury, cadmium, lead among others and all of these are inherently harmful to all humans. And by recycling e-waste successfully, you would be protecting the environment and at the same time, ensure that these toxic materials are disposed of safely.
  • Reutilization: Old electronic parts are a valuable resource for most electronics companies since they can reutilize the parts and develop new products. Just because a computer is obsolete, that does not mean that all its inner parts will be of no use. On the contrary, some of the top electronic companies often source e-waste, obsolete machine parts and reuse the same to develop newer products.
  • Rare earth: Most electronic products contain rare earth minerals, rare earth minerals is a rare and valuable resource. This is why some of the companies’ source e-waste, grind it to a pulp and use various processes to sift through the lot to locate rare earth components such as Cobalt, Gallium, Iridium and more. These are the re-processed and then utilized in the manufacture of new electronic products.
  • Employment opportunities: The e-waste recycling sector generates hundreds of thousands of jobs each year; this has proved to be invaluable for the economy and actually goes a long way to help mitigate poverty. Moreover, this sector offers many with a steady employment and even helps to train them so that they can recycle the e-waste efficiently.

Negative Effects of Recycling E-waste

  • Dumping e-waste: The current tendency is for the developed world to dump their garbage onto the developing world and the sad part is that this tendency seems to be on the rise. Despite various voluntary organizations stepping up efforts to block or halt this garbage export, it seems to continue unchecked. The problem is that most of these e-waste ends up in a garbage depot that is not equipped to process e-waste nor or their personnel trained to do so; as a result, this e-waste constitutes a health and environmental hazard, one that can have disastrous consequences for the developing world.
  • Health: It is essential that the workers who handle e-waste are adequately protected at all times; the reality though is that most of those working in this sector are rarely provided with any safety clothing and as a result, often put themselves and their loved ones at high risk, when they handle e-waste. Electronic products often contain toxic materials such as Cobalt, Iridium and at times can even be radioactive. And as these workers process the e-waste with their bare hands, their health is going to be impacted.
  • Data breach: Every electronic product will retain data in one form or another, and most of the e-waste dumped each year represents a ready source of valuable data for some. It is essential that all the data is wiped out before the product is recycled as this can go some way to preventing data theft.

These are the positive and negative impacts of e-waste; it is essential that we do our bit for the environment and streamline our processes for recycling waste so that we spend even less energy on the same. Recycling e-waste is not a necessity but one that is essential for the well-being of our planet and our immediate environment.

Alan Behrens
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