What is E-Waste?
What happens when your television, laptop, fax machine or other common electronic products reach the end of their useful life? For many people, it simply means tossing these items in the trash and buying new – and this leads to one of the fastest growing areas of waste in our country: e-waste.
Advancements in Technology Can Contribute to Growing Problem of e-Waste
Technology is a rapidly growing industry and as each manufacturer improves their device or releases a faster, more powerful computer, many people and business owners are quick to throw out their older electronics simply to upgrade to the latest and greatest technology available.
Most electronics could be refurbished, reused in another capacity or otherwise recycled, rather than just tossed in the trash. The growing green movement has led many environmentally conscious people to make an effort to use less paper and recycle whenever possible. However, until more people become aware of e-Waste, our increasing reliance on electronics in order to reduce paper is simply replacing one problem with another.
E-waste is often more dangerous than people realize. Consider cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which are found in many televisions: CRTs contain lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants. A cellular phone contains anywhere from 500 to 1,000 different components and many of these components are also known to contain toxic heavy metals and a variety of dangerous or hazardous chemicals.
When we drop these electronics off at the landfill, the materials can poison our water supply and soil, which then leads to health problems for people and animals in the area. Much of the world’s e-waste is being illegally exported to Asia and Africa, causing major problems in the area. Here are some of the chemicals found in e-waste and their effects: