E-Waste Disposal: A Matter of Concern

Humans have a lot to boast about the achievements that they have made in the past century or so. Man has always strived to make his life more dependent on machines so that minimal amount of human effort is required to perform a task. Now everything is available just at a click of the mouse. All these achievements are commendable and humans should get all the accolades they deserve; but at the same time, it has undoubtedly disturbed the fragile ecological balance.


There are many potent threats which the earth is facing today. Some of them are global warming, disposal of e-waste, widespread pollution of natural resources and excessive wastage of energy. In this tech-savvy era, where everything is electronically handled, the disposal of e-waste has emerged as one of the biggest challenges. The electronic industry has seen the fastest growth in the past decade or so. This is a constantly evolving industry and products such as outdated computers, television sets, mobile phones etc. become obsolete within a few years of their manufacturing because their new, upgraded versions become available in the market. The decreasing chip cost has also spurred the development of new products and decreased the rates of older goods, which has eventually led the people to discard them. This poses a problem of disposal of these items. The improper disposal of e-waste can create personal health and environmental problems because it contains considerable amount of hazardous waste such as lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.


E-waste has done an irreparable damage to our atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere. Firstly, this waste is generally burnt in an open area leading to the release of toxic gases in the environment due to the burning of the soldered material and plastic components. Secondly, as these components are imperishable, they pose a grave threat to the fertility of the soil. Thirdly, these toxic materials are released in rivers and oceans and hence, prove fatal for the aquatic life.


If handled judiciously, e-waste disposal can prove to be an effective employment generator, especially in developing countries. It contains many valuable items such as gold, palladium and silicon which are proved to have a good value for money. But the main challenge is to enforce environmental regulation so as to minimize the number of workers that are exposed to environmental hazards. Another remedial step is to reuse the existing waste. It has been found out that most of the e-waste is in a perfectly reusable condition. Hence, the manufacturers should reuse this waste that would in turn decrease the cost of production, leading to greater profits.


All the countries around the world should take up this matter seriously because it’s a global issue rather than a national one. Strict judicial laws should be formulated so as to stop people from disposing the waste in a reckless manner. Social awareness programs should be instigated by the government and the NGOs so as to make people aware of the ill-effects of e-waste. A proper mechanism with recycler vendors in place should be brought up where e-waste can be submitted for recycling. After all, it is we who are responsible for this mess. It’s our duty to rectify our mistakes so that our future generations get a safe and healthy environment to live in.


Saurabh Agarwal