What Exactly Is Electronic Waste?

The issue of what to do with electronic waste is a vital question in the modern world. The increase in the use of technology such as cell phones, smartphones, LCD TV’s and related items is creating a very troubling situation regarding what to do with this waste. There are issues of recycling, pre-cycling and toxic products created with these processes. This issue is made exacerbated by developing shortages for certain metals used in electronics. Answering these questions is very important for the future.

There are a large number of metals and products used in constructing different electronic devices. It includes metals and non-metals such as cadmium, mercury, americium, cobalt, gallium, germanium, tantalum and vanadium. The devices also use fiberglass, epoxy resins, polyvinyl chloride and thermosetting plastics. Many of these substances are very toxic. The list of hazardous chemicals includes brominated flame retardant substances which are used to help prevent large fires from developing. There is also a lot of lead in electronics because it is the standard solder used for joining components. The recycling of these products after they are used also creates a lot toxic chemicals which may leech into the environment.  Although, Cen Cal Ewaste offers electronics recycling in Turlock and the surrounding areas.

The world creates a lot of waste related to electronics. There are many names used for these products such as e-waste, e-scrap, but they all come under the heading of WEEE. WEEE stands for waste electrical and electronic equipment. The United States produces about three million tons per year, but the global amount is somewhere close to fifty million tons. This is a lot of waste and most of it goes into landfills where the toxic substances can leach out and contaminate drinking water. This is a dangerous situation and governments world-wide are trying to figure out a better way to deal with these products. However, a lot of the waste is simply shipped to countries who are not interested in safe disposal. Countries such as China, Indian and several countries in the continent of Africa.

The problem with electronic waste is that it’s hard to separate the substances so they can be effectively recycled. The reason for this is that the manufacturing process makes extremely small units which are hard to process. An important aspect of dealing with these devices is to change the design idea to incorporate plans for recycling after the lifetime of the device. These methods would include modules which are easy to repair or replace, the use of degradable plastics for cases and development of joining techniques which don’t rely on toxic elements such as lead. In addition, many of the elements inside electronics are either hard to find or hard to process. This means that by throwing away so much electronic waste we endanger our future ability to have these devices. China, for example, recently places an extreme limit on many of these substances.

To have a secure and technological future we need to develop better means to deal with these issues.