A Growing Concern in Today's EnvironmentThe article Electronic Waste: A Growing concern in Today’s Environment starts by showing stating how, there has been major developments observed in the sphere technology improvement and production over the years. As a result, the scale of electronics market has become wider and wider and spins up from day to day. According to Consumer Electronic Association, consumers purchased 800 million units of consumer electronics in 2012 "in the United States". Households in US spends approximately $1506 per year on hardware alone. Accordingly, there to improve on the efficiencies of their products in order to acquire an edge in the ultra- is a clear tendency of rapid substitutions and changes in electronic appliances as producers strive competitive market. The author implies that the high rate of upgrading electronic products is resulting to the shortening of their lifespans, and stockpiling of worthless gadgets that end up being a waste. The amount of consumer electronic wastes worldwide is approximately 40 – 45 million tons per year with the largest number of consumer electronics being from in Europe and United States of America. The author further indicates that it is only a small percentage of electronic waste that undergoes recycling. The lion percentage ends up in landfills while others are incinerated with the rest of solid municipal waste. Electronic waste management has become a challenge across the whole world. This article presents main points of the e-waste problem, analyses possible solutions of the problem and discusses if they are suitable and efficient enough. Among suggestions on electronic waste management in this article are, exporting to developing economies for re-use, proper restructuring of take back and other recycling programs. The recycling management is not efficient, and even the consumers are not adequately informed of about the proper waste disposal of their faulty gadgets. Tons of electronic wastes with hazardous components are ending up in landfills, due to incapacity and lack of relevant knowledge in e-waste disposal. Some of the elements that manufacture use in making the consumer electronic are so potent in their contamination. An example of the milligrams of mercury that are in liquid crystal displays that are part of televisions sets, computer monitors, tablets and smart phones is so toxic that if as little as one gram of airborne mercury is put to 20 acres lake every year, the contaminations levels of that the lake will be unsafe for its fish consumption. In addition, the placements of toxic electronic wastes in landfills leads to an increase in risks for human health like elevated risk of cancer and development of neurological disorders.Even small dosage of mercury is toxic to a point of causing a brain and kidney damage. In the year 2001, the national academy of science stated in its report that mercury may be also get to the young kids children through their mothers breast milk and that each year, there are cases of 60,000 babies that are born with abnormalities in their nervous system due to their exposure to methylmercury in the womb. Today there is an enormous export stream of discarded electronics flowing from developed economies like United States to the developing countries with an aim of donating them for re-use. This way the developed countries save millions of dollars that should have been the cost of proper disposal and recycling. The fact is that the majority of donated electronics turn out to be already outdated and improper for recycling. Ultimately tons of the e-waste end up in unregulated dumps. In other countries like china where the demand for crude materials is high and environmental standards are low, exported electronic wastes undergoes recycling processes like acid baths or open air burning that are dangerous to the workers’ health and also to the environment. Region in China where the processing of the e-waste takes place has 80% the children suffering from lead poisoning, workers’ bodies are remarkably saturated with fire retardants and ground waters are unsafe for drinking. This proves that, donating electronic products that are obsolete to third worlds for re-use, and recycling does not alleviate the danger, on the contrary that creates even more problems in those countries. The article also points out the initiatives by communities of nations, to curb the spread of the e-wastes across the world, as well as reducing the exposure of developing countries from the effects associated with e-waste exports. Sets of legislative regulations upon exportation of end-of-life electronics and the e-waste management as a whole are slowly being established. The example cited of such treaties is one that is Basel Convention Fixing Regulations, it is a treaty instituted between 175 countries, and it controls disposal management of electrical waste and the wastes movement between countries in an environmentally sound manner. This agreement ensures that hazardous electronic products can only be transported after an exact settlement is agreed between exporting and importing countries. The Basel treaty also states that unless the importing country has the technical capacity to manage the e-waste safely without endangering human and environmental intoxication the export is illegal. Another of the regulation that the article points out is the Waste Shipment Regulation that applies to European countries. This regulation makes it illegal to transport any hazardous waste from Europe to developing countries.The extended producer responsibility or product take-back has also been covered this article.This has also been cited as a program that can further reduce the dangers that are associated with e-wastes. This is a program seeks to have the electronic producers, shoulder the responsibility for disposal management of their products, when consumers takes them back as they become outdated and obsolete. There is a principle “you made, you deal with it” applied in this policy of extended producer responsibility. As the process of recycling devices with hazardous components inside of them presents a great challenge, ultimately such practice of forcing producers to take responsibility for their products’ wastes management may motivate manufacturers to redesign current models of gadgets into environment friendly and more sustainable gadgets. Currently there are several companies such as Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sharp that has established free national take back program. In different countries, system of take-back programs vary from us program which requires consumers to pay for disposal to the Taiwanese one that do not charge a fee, but also encourage consumer by offering them with reward money. In conclusion, the article states that though there are numerous techniques that can be applied to electronic waste management, not all that are successful in their application. Donations of electronic devices to developing countries is not efficient as most gadgets arrive in condition improper for re-use. Consequently, export of electronics to third world countries for re-use only results in environmental contamination with hazardous components in the absence of any proper recycling capabilities in those countries. The author proposes the legislation method or establishment of take back programs as the efficient solutions. Extended producer responsibility will not only systemize the recycling process, but also give motivation to manufacturers to create designs that will be less poisonous.
Bhutta, M. Khurrum S., Adnan Omar, and Xiaozhe Yang. "Electronic Waste: A Growing
Concern in Today's Environment." Economics Research International 2011