Socio-economic and environmental impact of electronic waste

Satyam Bansal, Harsh Chaudhary, Prashant Singh, Pratibha Singh


In today’s world, most of us have the luxury of not having to face the daily realities of all the damage humans do to the planet. It is difficult to understand the devastation created by human beings unless you travel to a developing nation or actively try to find it in our own country -- pictures or words will never do it justice. E-Waste (Electronic Waste) is the rapidly growing stream of waste from discarded electronics and appliances. These items include anything from computers, TVs and phones to washing machines and refrigerators to everything else in between. Most of these electronics appliances are often not trash, but simply outdated and traded up for the latest version on the market. To manufacture one computer and its monitor it takes 530lbs of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water. Toxic substances when burnt at low temperature create additional toxins such as halogenated dioxins and furans- harmful to mankind. According to the most recent report released by the United Nations University (UNU) on the matter, findings show that globally we produced 41.8 million tons of e-waste in 2014. Even more startling -- it is believed that less than one-sixth is properly recycled or reused.

While the negative impact of e-waste is vast and growing, most people are probably unaware of its reach. The lack of proper recycling leads to harmful toxins like lead and mercury leaching into the environment. Harmful materials like these and many others found in e-waste, cause all sorts of health issues like neurological damage, kidney damage and some cancers, to name a few. And let's not forget about the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons left behind. Maybe the worst part of this issue is that most e-waste from developed countries is exported to developing countries like India, Africa and China. Often the pits of discarded computers and other electronics are picked over by locals who attempt to mine profitable materials like copper and gold from them. The improperly performed recovery methods like acid baths and burning of electronics are extremely harmful and are often performed by local women and children.

These issues are environmental as well as social and related to mankind. So, it is for us to choose, whether we want to choose life of doomsday by the invasion of machines and radiations over us completely so as we loose humanity and mankind from this planet completely and forever.


E-Waste; Degradation; Disposal issue;

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