E-waste has become a major problem in different world nations due to the limited space available for disposing of these devices. Each year only 10 percent of e-waste is actually recycled securely worldwide, according to statistics from one of the world’s largest recyclers, Total Reclaim, and other recycling companies. This means the remaining 90 percent ends up in landfills and can contribute to pollution.
Global E-Waste Generation: 2019-2030
The volume of electronic waste generated worldwide in 2019 was roughly 54 million metric tons. Several factors, such as increased spending power and the availability of electronics, have fueled that generation process, making it the fastest growing waste stream worldwide. This trend shows a non-stop result, with projections showing that the generation will continue to grow by approximately 30 percent every year.
One common misconception is that most developed countries are able to effectively deal with their e-waste. In reality, no country can effectively deal with it. The truth is that only about 34% of the total generated in the year 2012 was actually recycled in developed countries such as Canada and the United States. The remaining were either sent to landfills or stockpiled for planned disposal at a later date.
The growing trend of purchasing and discarding electronic products makes e-waste the fastest growing waste stream, fueled mainly by people buying electronic products with shorter life cycles and fewer options for repair.
How much e-waste do people produce?
In the United States, each person is expected to generate around 7.1 kilograms of e-waste every year, according to a survey done back in 2010 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This makes the US rank as one of the top 10 largest producers in the world. Meanwhile, people in India are estimated to be producing around 1.8 kg per person every year, placing it at 56th place, just above China and Brazil.
There is a ton of hazardous waste every year, and almost no country has a solution to this problem. It is estimated that in 2021 there will be more than 50 million tons of e-waste produced.
Some of the Electronic Cost
Creating a desktop computer and its monitor produces at least 1.5 tons of water waste, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 530 pounds of fossil fuels. Only 20% of e-waste has been documented to have been collected, despite high-value recoverable materials such as copper and gold.
Processing and recycling DVD players, cell phones, and computers are more labor-intensive than simply disposing of them in a landfill or by incineration, so it is more beneficial to the local economy.
Only a small percentage of e-waste is recycled. The reasons for this include the high costs of recycling electronics and the amount of lead and other hazardous material the average television, cell phone, or computer contains.
As solid waste management is a critical aspect of environmental hygiene, it must be incorporated into environmental planning such as televisions, cellphones, computer monitors, or any electronic equipment that contains toxic substances should be segregated to prevent adverse effects on health, and affect economic growth. That’s why it is important to follow the government system with high technology to implement the proper segregation. As a consumer, we should all do our part in reducing these numbers by the following recycling, repair, or disposal practices.
E-waste recycling is an important issue that is starting to be addressed more and more in today’s society. Hopefully, someday we will start to recycle all our e-waste, and not just throw it all away when it can easily be turned back into usable materials once again.