|Electronic waste or e-waste is a word used for old, broken or electronic products which are disposed off by their users. Also known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), e-waste includes all electronic appliances which are for reuse.
Reasons for Electronic waste:Advancement in technologyUrbanization or change of life styleReached towards end of their life or cannot be reused
E-waste includes:Large household appliances such as refrigerators, large cooling appliances, washing machines, clothes dryers, electric stoves, dish washing machines, microwaves, etc.Small household appliances, such as blenders, steam irons, vacuum cleaners etc.IT & telecommunications devices such as computers, laptops, chips, motherboards, mobile phones, telephones, pagers, fax machines, etc.Consumer equipments such as radio sets, televisions, audio amplifiers, video cameras, video recorders, etc.Lighting equipments such as lamps, bulbs, tube lights, etc.Electrical & electrical tools such as drills, sewing machines, equipments for welding or similar use, equipments for milling, sanding, grinding, punching or similar use, etc.Toys and sports equipments such as electric trains, car racing sets, coin slot machines, video games, computers for running, rowing, biking, diving, etc.Medical devices such as Radiotherapy equipment, Cardiology, Nuclear machine, pulmonary ventilators, Dialysis, Freezers, etc.Monitoring and control instruments such as security alarms, heating regulators, thermostats, smoke detectors, sirens, etc.Automatic dispensers for money, hot drinks, solid products, etc.
The market of electronic goods is expanding at a fast pace while the lifespan of the electrical/electronic goods is shrinking, leading to the mountain of electronic scrap to be discarded. Tones of electronic gadgets are purchased and sold everyday. These obsolete electronic gadgets are being dumped into the landfills leading to the growing concern over electronic waste.
These electrical and electronic products release significant amount of heavy metals and toxic substances, for example copper from wires and cables; cadmium from batteries and solder joints; and antimony from plastics, resins and electrical solders. There are many other metals like mercury, cobalt, barium, zinc, nickel, chromium and silver, which are found in the electronic products.
These heavy metals and organic compounds can have adverse effect on the human health and the environment if their recycling and disposal are not handled properly. The electronic waste recycling sector in India is required to be regulated properly. Most electronic products comprise of lead, which can have permanent effects on the nervous system. Like lead, cadmium can have irreversible effects to the bone structure and kidneys. Contamination of environment is another issue emerges from electronic waste. Water and soil get contaminated as a result of unregulated method of electronic waste recycling and disposal.
There is an urgent need for the electronic goods manufacturing industry to take the responsibility of developing and designing products that are safe, longer lasting and easy to recycle.