E-waste: A Growing Mountain of Digital Junk
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E-waste: A Growing Mountain of Digital Junk

There is an old saying which says: "whichever way you cut it, it's all baloney." Well, the term e-waste is also used interchangeably with other terms such as: electronic waste, e-junk, e-scrap or simply "waste electrical and electronic equipment" (WEEE). However, e-waste as most commonly known, simply translates into digital junk and is currently effecting many aspects of our planet in one manner or another.

 

There is an old saying which says: "whichever way you cut it, it's all baloney." Well, the term e-waste is also used interchangeably with other terms such as: electronic waste, e-junk, e-scrap or simply "waste electrical and electronic equipment" (WEEE). However, e-waste as most commonly known, simply translates into digital junk and is currently effecting many aspects of our planet in one manner or another.

E-waste or digital junk, is composed mainly of abandoned or discarded pieces of electronic devices such as: PCs, smart-phones, cellphones, printers, fax machines, etc. Without any signs of abating, the e-junk range of mountains continues to grow globally at a rate of 20 - 50 tons annually (1) If the reader is reading this article on a PC, and of course you are, then we have to be all concerned with this phenomena as we have contributed to its existence to some degree or another.

Basically, e-waste are discarded mountains of electronic devices which are abandoned daily in favor of newer modeled devices such as: smartphones, desktop PCs, printers, fax machines, etc.  According to one reliable source, "an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste are produced each year: the USA alone is responsible for 30 million computers each year (or 3 million tons), and 100 million phones are disposed of in Europe each year."

On The Other Hand

There is another adage which goes: "every cloud has a silver lining."  This also may apply to e-waste on earth.  Not at first realized, digital junk is an abundant source of essential riches such as:  iron, copper, iron, nickel, silicon and gold.  It is estimated that one cell phone alone is made up of over 19 percent copper and eight percent iron. 

Mineral extraction from the recycling of e-waste is big business; a rapidly exploding industry in e-waste today provides gainful employment for the masses globally. (2)  It is reported that the city of Delhi alone produces enough digital junk to having a standing army of 25,000 employees manually processing the discarded pieces of material on a daily basis.

Yes, e-waste can indeed present an almost insurmountable problem for society; most of those employed for the recycling process are children being exposed to toxic parts during processing of the e-waste.  However, for now, e-waste is providing employment for countless of people who may not have had any other recourse for jobs beforehand.

 

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Sources:

All photos from Morguefile or Wikipedia Creative Commons

Written by Beverly Anne Sanchez, April, 2012

 (1) http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste/

 (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewaste

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Comments (5)

When i bought a new printer/scanner recently I asked about the cost of new ink cartridges. I was appalled they were more expensive than a new scanner and was informed most people just bought a new printer / scanner. We live in a throw away society!

Thank you Val for your comments.  Yes, it seems waste of every kind is now pandemic.

Sad to say Beverly, that my country is an e-waste disposal of junk electronics and other household aplliances and even clothes. In China, mountains of electronic scraps are being neglected. Great profiling mi hermana, gracias!

Thank you for your kind comments Val and Ron. I appreciate you reding the article and your thoughts.

You bring up some very important points, Beverly, that sooner or later we will have to address!

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