“Electronic waste” may be defined as discardedcomputers, office electronic equipment, entertainmentdevice electronics, mobile phones, television sets andrefrigerators. This definition includes used electronics whichare destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal.Others define the re-usable (working and repairableelectronics) and secondary scrap (copper, steel, plastic, etc.)to be "commodities", and reserve the term "waste" forresidue or material which is dumped by the buyer ratherthan recycled, including residue from reuse and recyclingoperations. Because loads of surplus electronics arefrequently commingled (good, recyclable, and non-recyclable), several public policy advocates apply the term"e-waste" broadly to all surplus electronics. Cathode raytubes (CRT) are considered one of the hardest types torecycle.
Rapid changes in technology,changes in media (tapes, software,MP3), falling prices, and plannedobsolescence have resulted in afast-growing surplus of electronicwaste around the globe. DaveKruch, CEO of Cash For Laptops,regards electronic waste as a"rapidly expanding" issue.Technical solutions are available,but in most cases a legalframework, a collection system,logistics, and other services need tobe implemented before a technicalsolution can be applied.
In addition to its damaging effect on theenvironment and its illegal smuggling intodeveloping countries, researchers have nowlinked e-waste to adverse effects on humanhealth, such as inflammation and oxidativestress – precursors to cardiovascular disease,DNA damage and possibly cancer.
17%14%20%23%26%Material Composition of PCsOthers Aluminium Ferrous Metal Plastic Silica/Glass
One theory is that increased regulation of electronic wasteand concern over the environmental harm in matureeconomies creates an economic disincentive to removeresidues prior to export. Critics of trade in used electronicsmaintain that it is still too easy for brokers callingthemselves recyclers to export unscreened electronic wasteto developing countries, such as China, India and parts ofAfrica, thus avoiding the expense of removing items like badcathode ray tubes (the processing of which is expensive anddifficult). The developing countries have become toxic dumpyards of e-waste. Proponents of international trade point tothe success of fair trade programs in other industries, wherecooperation has led to creation of sustainable jobs, and canbring affordable technology in countries where repair andreuse rates are higher
The processes of dismantling and disposing of electronic waste in thethird world lead to a number of environmental impacts as illustrated inthe graphic. Liquid and atmospheric releases end up in bodies ofwater, groundwater, soil and air and therefore in land and sea animals –both domesticated and wild, in crops eaten by both animals andhuman, and in drinking water.One study of environmental effects in Guiya, China found the following: Airborne dioxins – one type found at 100 times levels previouslymeasured Levels of carcinogens in duck ponds and rice paddies exceededinternational standards for agricultural areas andcadmium, copper, nickel, and lead levels in rice paddies were aboveinternational standards Heavy metals found in road dust – lead over 300 times that of a controlvillage’s road dust and copper over 100 times
Today the electronic waste recycling business is in all areas of thedeveloped world a large and rapidly consolidating business. Partof this evolution has involved greater diversion of electronic wastefrom energy-intensive down cycling processes (e.g., conventionalrecycling), where equipment is reverted to a raw material form.This is recycling is done by sorting, dismantling, and recovery ofvaluable materials  This diversion is achieved through reuseand refurbishing. The environmental and social benefits of reuseinclude diminished demand for new products and virgin rawmaterials (with their own environmental issues); larger quantitiesof pure water and electricity for associated manufacturing; lesspackaging per unit; availability of technology to wider swaths ofsociety due to greater affordability of products; and diminisheduse of landfills.
There are several!Conserves natural resources. Recycling recovers valuable materials from oldelectronics that can be used to make new products. As a result, we saveenergy, reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save resources byextracting fewer raw materials from the earth. Protects your surroundings. Safe recycling of outdated electronics promotessound management of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury. Helps others. Donating your used electronics benefits your community by passingon ready-to-use or refurbished equipment to those who need it. Create Jobs. eCycling creates jobs for professional recyclers and refurbishers andcreates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled. Saves landfill space. E-waste is a growing waste stream. By recycling theseitems, landfill space is conserved.
Take good care of your electronic items so theylast as long as possible. Before purchasing a newcomputer system, for example, check intoupgrading individual components. You may findthat all you need is one or two componentsreplaced Consider the purchase of refurbished productswhen possible. Refurbished products usuallycarry the same manufacturers warranty as newitems. Working consumer electronics may bedonated to a charity or thrift store so that theycan be reused by others.
Buy from companies that offer take-backprograms Choose products with less toxicity, greaterrecycled content, and higher efficiency Use Rechargeable Batteries