E-waste or electronic waste is one of the biggest concerns for the world today. With technological advancements, the use of electronic products such as cell phones, computers, printers, and televisions is growing. As a result, the volume of the e-waste to be disposed of also increases drastically. The amount is alarmingly large when it comes to considering it on a global scale.
The biggest problem is that you cannot just dump this waste anywhere because it can be hazardous to the environment and human health. Countries across the globe have stringent rules for e-waste disposal and businesses need to comply with them. At the same time, it is important to understand why these rules really matter and what could be the environmental impact of non-compliance. Let us see how improper e-waste disposal can affect the world in the long run.
Electronics are made with toxic materials such as zinc, lead, nickel, chromium, barium and flame retardants. Burning e-waste in the open can cause air pollution because it releases hydrocarbons, heavy metals and other poisonous materials in the air. These materials can deteriorate the air quality to a significant extent. The toxins make the air totally unsafe for humans, plants, and animals.
Water pollution is another hazard related to improper disposal of e-waste. When the components of electronics are dismantled and dumped in water bodies or on land, the contents leak and mix in the water. The water contaminates the community supplies meant for humans and makes it unfit for drinking. Prolonged exposure to water-borne toxins can even harm the wildlife and species that live in water.
When e-waste is dumped into landfills, it translates into huge risk for the environment and human health. The toxins enter the soil-crop-food pathway and give heavy metals a route to enter the food chain. Ryan Morrel of CJDEcycling.com says that you can recycle all kinds of electronics, from computers to blenders to Christmas lights. This is the best approach which individuals and businesses can follow to protect the food chain as a whole.
Beyond the environmental impact of improper dumping, it can be a cause of human exploitation too. People who are pushed into this dangerous occupation are made to work under grueling conditions, that too for demeaning wages. They are continuously exposed to e-waste hazards and may fall prey to dangerous diseases in the long run. Moreover, a majority of dumping businesses run illegally and there are no regulations to protect the labor rights.
The risks of improper e-waste disposal also include the risk to data and information security of businesses. For example, handing over the hard drive for disposal without properly erasing the information endangers the sensitive business information they store. There are unscrupulous people who go through discarded drives to gather personal and financial details of businesses and customers.
Now that you know all about the hazards of improper e-waste disposal, you must ensure that you do it safely and ethically. This practice will not only make your business compliant with the government laws but also make sure that you run it responsibly.