Global Achievements in Electronic Waste Management

While electronic waste is increasingly becoming a contentious issue in international relations and politics, here’s a look at initiatives in a few countries to recycle ewaste.

Author RESET , 01.06.14

In the current digital focused world, Electronic Waste Management efforts need to catch up with the rising demands of different forms of gadgets. Hardware can range from PCs spare parts, tablets, mobile phones and other electronically related devices.

Millions of television sets are disposed and sent to landfills on an annual basis. It takes a long time for the materials to decompose as they’re non-biodegradables. The effects of these can be quite devastating.

Harmful chemicals can be burnt or melt along the process of decomposition. This leads to toxic fumes which may be spread in the atmosphere. Human health is left vulnerable, and a few of the acquired conditions include foetal loss and malfunctioning of the thyroid glands. Needless to say, the effects electronic waste on humans and nature alike can be quite adverse.

Electronic Waste Defined

E-wastes are considered to be technological devices and gadgets which are no longer useful. The effects of the Information Age means technological tools are created and consumed at an exponential growth rate. Consumers are constantly on the lookout for the latest hardware to satisfy their information and process cravings.

Collectively, Australian companies have purchased a total of $16 billion worth of hardware in the past year. The figure doesn’t stop there, as 5% of total growth is expected to take place by next year.

Trends and Achievements on E-Waste

Identifying a hardware’s elements is a basic step in ensuring E-Waste Management success. Millions of thrown out gadgets may be a challenge for organisations and consumers alike. It’s quite inspiring to discover the following global initiatives on E-Waste Recycling:

Consumer Education in Asia

Letting consumers know of the value in waste management should ideally start in the beginning.

In Velachery, India, public school students were given orientations on e-waste recycling. The steps on how electronic waste can accumulate in different parts of the home, in school and all other areas were identified. The motivation of purchasing gadgets was broken down, encouraging lesser consumption of these products.

Recycling Initiatives in Africa

Even Kenya has taken a stand in gearing up for electronic waste management. A new recycling plant in Nairobi has just been installed, featuring a collection of hardware, compliance to recycling standards and waste recovery.

Sorting processes can occur beforehand, which is a big advantage. Knowing the nature of materials, such as lead, mercury, PVCs or polyvinyl chloride (as in cable insulations) and similar elements can be of tremendous help for a recycling plant.

The country’s government sectors have seen potential in such recycling plants. Not only will this initiative be helpful to the Kenyan environment, the factory also serves as a revenue generating arm for citizens, due to the increase of demands for technological gadgets.

Automated Technologies throughout America

While existing recycling plants can provide a lot of promise in reducing electronic waste, one step up of this initiative relies on automation and segregation of the different kinds of materials until eventual refinement can already be monitored.

After refining similar kinds of elements, they are then electronically clustered. This paves the way towards easily re-using and combining the shredded materials. Upon manufacturing a new product, a greener approach has been merged with newer gadgets.

What makes automated segregation convenient and appealing are its optical sensors (to distinguish one element from another) and metal-separating machines (which eventually segregates the identified materials). This further inspires gadget makers to develop materials which are segregation-friendly.

It is easy to be in awe upon seeing the worldwide spread of electronic waste management. The achievement of different countries is taken one step at a time, with efforts both small (such as educating students) and large(like installing recycling plants) and it is hoped that consumers and businesses can look forward to constant responsible electronic waste management in the near future.

The Alternative is an online media publication focused on sustainable living and social impact.

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