E-waste or electronic waste refers to the loosely surplus, broken or discarded electrical and electronic devices (Kozlan 03-4). Examples of these electronic waste products include televisions, computers, fax machines, VCRs, copiers, and stereos, which can either be refurbished, recycled, or reused. However, most third world countries are increasingly becoming a dump for electronic discards. Notably, most of the old electronics are still being stored due to the uncertainty in how to manage the materials. Moreover, the constantly increasing advances in new products and technology in the market has made e-waste more popular than before.
The problem with e-waste is that, it causes serious health and pollution problems. Some of the e-waste have contaminants such as mercury, lead, beryllium, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. E-waste is also a serious threat to the developed countries, especially to workers and communities who are actively involved with the recycling and disposal of these wastes. Health experts and those in the scrap industry agree to the fact that, materials such as e-waste should be managed cautiously. Moreover, environmental dangers associated with e-waste have not been exaggerated in any way.
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Most e-wastes usually end up in third world or developing countries. These electronic equipment are shipped from the developed countries to the developing countries. There are some exporters who deliberately leave difficult-to-recycle and non-repairable equipment mixed with other working equipment. Keeping this in mind, it is essential for protectionists to broaden the definition of electronic wastes so as to protect the domestic markets in the third world form secondary or waste equipment.
The surplus of electronic waste around the world can be attributed to technology, changes in the media software, planned obsolescence, and falling prices (Slade 36-7). Countries in Europe and the United States dispose about fifty million ton of E-waste each year (Chea 56). Only about fifteen or twenty percent of the e-waste is usually recycled. While most of e-waste ends up in landfills, there are some which are exported to places like Asia. Those that are exported to developing countries usually violate the international law. Most European seaports have about 45 percent of waste destined for export, which is usually illegal. It is an illegal process because countries like the United States have not yet ratified the Basel Convention.
Despite the fact that developing countries like China have tried to ban the import of e-waste, e-waste disposal continues to be a problem. India is also increasingly becoming a dump for e-waste (Hicks 79-0). About 25 percent of the waste is from computers. There has been e-waste scrap yards found in Ferozobad, Meerut, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai. Developing countries are increasingly becoming dump yards of e-waste. Proponents of this trade point to the fact that the trade creates sustainable jobs, and also bring affordable technology to countries where reuse and repair rates are very high. They also claim that extraction of metals from virgin mining have shifted to developing countries.
Some countries like South Korea and Taiwan have succeeded in seeking retained value in a number of used goods. There are cases where some have even set up industries that refurbish used ink cartridges, working CTRs, and single-use cameras. Electronic wastes are sent to countries such as Kenya, Malaysia, and China for processing. However, a number of these materials usually end up in waste dumps because most of them fail to work in the long run. Electronic waste which finds their way to third world countries has other uses. Some of the computer components can be very useful in assembling new computer products, while others are often reduced to metals that can be important for construction, jewelry, and flatware. Out of these wastes are fiberglass, PVC, tin, copper, aluminum, iron, epoxy resins, carbon, PCBS, thermosetting plastics, silicon, and beryllium. Most of the electronics containing tin, copper and lead for solder, wire and printed circuit board.
Components like gold are used for plating in computer equipment, zinc for steel parts, and silicon for glass, printed circuit boards, ICs, and transistors. Others like iron are usually used for cases, steel chassis and fixings. There seems to be no appropriate system to govern exportation of e-waste due to a number of problems. However, the European Union usually submits an annual report to the European Commission concerning the amount of waste that is imported or exported. Notably, coding of the waste follows the codes usually used in the Basel Convention, whose aim is to protect human health and the environment form effects cause by e-waste. However, the problem arises from the fact that there is no code that corresponds with (West Electrical and Electronic Equipment) WEEE. As a result, more than a third of the waste is never satisfied.
Most developed countries solve the problem of e-waste by recycling them. There are workers in plants who dismantle the equipment into a number of various parts by hand. The parts include plastics, metal frames, circuit bonds, and power supplies. This process involves taking computers apart. It is an advantageous process because it saves working and repairable parts, which include RAM, transistors, Chips and others. There are measures taken to ensure that any hazards coming out of the process is curbed appropriately. This process involves dismantling component recovery items with an increased cost-effective processing of most electronic waste. This usually expands the lifespan of a specific device.
The recycling of raw materials from e-waste can be an effective solution to the problem due to the fact that a variety of materials can be recovered for future use. Taking apart or dismantling of the computer parts provide reuses possibilities, natural resources are conserved and pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. It also reduces the greenhouse emissions caused by the manufacture of new products.
In conclusion, e-waste or electronic waste refers to the loosely surplus, broken or discarded electrical and electronic devices. Examples of these electronic waste products include televisions, computers, fax machines, VCRs, copiers, and stereos, which can either be refurbished, recycled, or reused. However, most third world countries are increasingly becoming a dump for electronic discards. Notably, most of the old electronics are still being stored due to the uncertainty in how to manage the materials. Moreover, the constantly increasing advances in new products and technology in the market has made e-waste more popular than before. The problem with e-waste is that, it causes serious health and pollution problems. Some of the e-waste have contaminants such as mercury, lead, beryllium, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants.
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