E-waste: Concept, Hazards and Proposed Solutions

E-waste: Problems, Solutions and Benefits

By manuelfloresv [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

What is E-Waste?

E-waste is electronic and electrical equipment of any kind that has been discarded and are considered dangerous, as certain components of some electronic products contain materials that are hazardous, depending on their condition and density. This includes anything powered by an electrical source (e.g., from a power socket or a battery). Common types of e-waste include the following:-

  • Information technology equipment, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, computer and mobile phone batteries, peripherals and accessories such as keyboards, modems, monitors, computer mice, docking stations, hard disk drives, printed circuit boards, battery chargers, etc.
  • Home appliances, such as TVs, fridges, washing machines, air conditioners, rice cookers, toaster ovens and microwave, electric kettles, food processors and blenders, electric fans, DVD/video/music players, radios, vacuum cleaners, etc.

E-waste is mainly made up of plastic and metal components, but also contains small amounts of heavy metals and substances of concern (e.g., in circuit boards).

Challenges posed by electronic wasteE-waste is the world’s most toxic and fastest growing waste stream. Toxins from E-waste dumped in landfills slowly enter the surrounding environment and making it toxic and dangerous for living beings. Recycling e-waste protects environmental and human health. Improper disposal of e-waste leads to environmental pollution and this may harm human health. The best way to treat e-waste is to recycle it properly. E-waste includes many different components and requires specialised equipment to dismantle, shred, process and extract the constituent materials that can then be turned into new products. This has to be performed within a controlled system to prevent pollution and ensure workplace safety and health.

As technology is advancing exponentially and we consume more and more of it, that pile of twisted cords, broken keyboards and computer monitors gets bigger and bigger. There are plenty of recycling programs for your old electronics nearing the end of their “useful” life that will allow you to dispose of everything safely, responsibly and legally many states have laws regulating e-waste disposal. And by recycling these products, you will eliminate the health and environment hazards caused by disposal of untreated e-waste in landfills.

Lots of individuals and community programs need equipment, but they don’t have the resources to get brand new models. That outdated desktops or laptops could be a good fit for an individual with just simple browsing needs, or for community after-school programs. Responsibly disposing of your old equipment isn’t always easy, but donation is a win-win for you, your community, and the environment.

Why are we Recycling Electronic and Computers?

Electronic and PC components contain many substances, like Magnesium, Radium, Barium, Niobium, Osmium, Cobalt, Manganese, Titanium, Hafnium, Tungsten, Germanium, Gold, Silver, Copper, Mercury, Bismuth, Silicon, Gallium, Zinc, Iron, Sulfur, Phosphorus, Cadmium, Palladium, Tantalum, Platinum, Aluminum, Carbon, Lead, Nickel, Boron, Chromium, Potassium, Francium, Cesium,  Sodium, Lithium, Calcium, Nitrogen, Oxygen , Arsenic, neodymium, Selenium, & Tin ( If treated properly many of these and many other components are a good source of secondary raw materials, if not treated properly, they are a source of toxins and carcinogens.  When these goods are disposed off in wastelands they can be very harmful for the environment creating colossal water and air pollution. However, years of investigation and experimentation has shown humankind that we can recycle electronic waste and reduce the amount of pollution considerably. Our small contributions towards this cause can make huge differences in the quality of life.

Hundreds and thousands of electronic and electrical equipment are dumped at the local landfills almost every day.  Many of us are not even aware of all the hazardous materials our electronic and electrical equipment are made of. Cadmium, lead and mercury are some of the chemicals used in the production of almost all technologically advanced gadgets. In spite of the reduced size of monitors these days they still pose a threat to the environment along with harming the earth, chemicals like mercury can cause major damage to every human organ.

Made of such perilous chemicals CRT’s are another momentous threat to people and the environment. As CRT’s becoming obsolete in the near future, it should be a huge cause of concern for everyone alike.

Definition of Terms

  1. CRT: Cathode-ray tube; an older technology prior to the invention of LCD/Plasma screens. Used in television and computer display screens and are comprised of a large glass screen/tube.
  2. E-waste: Any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic device.
  3. Hazardous Waste: Waste made up of toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, biological or infectious materials.
  4. Heavy Metals: Any metallic element with a high density that is toxic or poisonous in low concentrations.
  5. Leaching: The removal of materials by dissolving them away from solids.
  6. Lead Poisoning: A medical condition caused by increased levels of lead in the blood.
  7. Municipal Solid Waste: Waste products that include paper, glass, metal, plastic, rubber, leather, textiles, wood, food, yard trimmings, and miscellaneous inorganic wastes. Does not include hazardous materials.
  8. Recycle: To extract useful materials for re-use.
  9. Toxic: Any material capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means.

At Veracity World we follow a simple three step process to ensure all electronic devices sent to us are processed and recycled responsibly. Dismantling and recycling processes take place at our partner facility.

Step 1: Reuse

E-waste handling and disposal proceduresThe first step of the process is to manually inspect all the defects and identify the functionality and usability to determine the value of each device. Consumer approved devices with resale value will be sorted and tagged for further testing and refurbishing work. We will also make sure any device capable of storing data is labelled, quarantined and processed to guarantee data confidentiality.

Step 2: Recover

The devices that failed the initial manual inspection will be separated and sorted for dismantling process. The devices will then be dismantled into separate commodities such as metals, glass, plastics and cables.

Step 3: Recycle

All the materials and components that are dismantled are then sent to vendors for further refining process to be used as raw material for new products.

However, recycling of hazardous products has little environmental benefit if it simply moves the hazards into secondary products that eventually have to be disposed of. Unless the goal is to redesign the product to use non-hazardous materials, such recycling is a false solution.

Veracity World Accepts all Electronic Assets for Recycling

What Veracity World is doing to tackle e-waste and protect the environmentOur Mission is providing E-Waste recycling services with focus on environmental or human health and effective reuse methods to minimize the amount of E-Waste disposal being accumulated in landfills.

Our fundamental aim is to control and reduction of hazardous and other wastes including the prevention and minimization of their generation, the environmentally sound management of such wastes and the active promotion of the transfer and use of technologies.

Veracity World offers a reliable and cost-effective collection service for all electrical or electronic goods that has a plug, uses a charger or is powered by battery. Our staff can collect all of your electrical and electronic goods, and decommission them, if required, to guarantee data security.

We wipe hard-drives to high standards with the option of shredding, as well as providing certificates of destruction upon request. And then sold to reuse markets or donated to non-profit organisations or charity of client’s choice.

Our Veracity World approved and environmentally compliant facilities recycle all electrical and electronic goods to the highest standards. Detailed compliance reports can be tailored to your specific requirements.

Team Veracity