Electronic Junk is a Growing Problem.
E-waste has been perhaps one of the most ambiguously used terms in the recent times. While some discards any previously used or owned items that can well be salvaged or refurbished as E-Waste, others have a more objective view. As a consequence of the ambiguity, it is hard to separate myths from facts, when it comes E-waste management. Myths typically have no data to back up what is claimed and mostly are an attempt by a vested party to use one data point and simply draw a line.
However, in the words of economist Roger Brinner, “sum of anecdotes is not data”. Hence, it is important to objectively view the myths, defy and disown them before they go on to spread cynicism and discourage people from recycling and proper management of e-wastes. Here’s discussing and busting 7 most popular myths around e-waste management:
Myth #1: The issue of E-waste management has been blown out of proportions
As per the common understanding, the problem of e-waste management isn’t as big as it is claimed to be. Perhaps this belief is the key reason why we are so laid-back and complacent in dealing with the burgeoning problem of e-wastes.
We are switching between products faster than before, creating a huge potential for the market dealing with defective or used products. Since the economy has emerged as more of “use and throw” that products that are being manufactured today are more difficult to be repaired. Collectively, these mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and other electronic products that are just discarded, add on to the increasing pile of e-waste.
Mobile phones that we kept for 3 years now has a shelf life of 6 months before a new model comes in and we switch.
Myth #2: Recycling electronic discards waste more energy
Given the number of trucks and cars used for carrying e-wastes, along with shredding machines, the power consumption etc., it is easy to believe that recycling would end up wasting more energy. However, while drawing a kilo by kilo comparison, recycling proves to be better efficient and sustainable than any other industry.
Recycling e-wastes conserves more energy than mining, manufacturing or lumber. Since the metals are present already in their pure form in metals, recycling the same makes more sense than creating them from the scratch from their original form.
Myth #3: E-waste is toxic and poisonous
Toxins in e-wastes have been exaggerated beyond measures. The Internet is afloat with information regarding a number of toxic substances like cadmium, lead and lead oxides present in various e-wastes like TV or computers. However, the fact is hardly any TV or monitor has cadmium or a liquid mercury switch.
Besides, by early 1970s, a majority of manufacturers had gotten rid of cadmium and lead is already stabilized in electronic products. Instead, burning plastic products or copper wires causes more air pollution than scientifically recycling the same. Also, the primitive risks in the scrapping industry aren’t part of the repair, recycling or e-waste management companies. Mining raw materials expose us to more toxicity and wastes, including silicosis and lead poisoning instead of getting the same via recycling.
Myth #4: Recycling isn’t worth the effort
This is perhaps the most dangerous of all the myths about recycling. While one cannot overemphasize the importance of proper e-waste management, cynics believe that recycling isn’t worth the effort and it’s better to sell off the same at a lower value than have it properly recycled. Hence, in addition wasting away potential resources that are recycled and adding to wastes and pollutions via unregulated sector, such cynics spread non-participation in the industry.
While discouraging the responsible producers from doing the right thing, the cynical non-participation undercuts the responsible refurbishing and repair companies, making e-waste management less economical for them.
Myth #5: Most Producers don’t care about recycling
Another misconception rampant in the market today is that the producers don’t care two hoots about recycling and are more likely to compromise nature for personal motives. What people spreading these false believe forget is that the producers also happens to be fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, friends, and lovers and more! The producers are socially conscious and take responsibility towards conscience produce and safeguarding the planet for their future generations.
Myth #6: Most consumers are oblivious about recycling e-wastes
While it is true that the cynicism around e-waste management promotes non-participation, but consumers today are acting responsibly. Majority of users care a lot about e-waste management but may lack the proper insights, awareness, and knowledge necessary for taking the right call. With more encouragement and awareness drives, the consumers wouldn’t shy away from joining the movement of proper e-waste management.
Myth #7: Electronics get recycled or repaired in developing economies like India
As per the report by the United Nations in 2015, 90% of e-waste in the world is shipped off to developing economies. However, shipping e-waste to developing economies doesn’t ensure proper disposal, recycling or repair. For instance, a CRT screen or a plastic body is not repaired but simply thrown away, adding to the increasing pile of e-wastes across the globe.
Owing to increasing consciousness with regards to e-waste disposal or management, responsible recyclers process the e-waste themselves, instead of adding to the hazardous pile of e-wastes. With the right set of awareness and policies, we can check the e-wastes being shipped to the developing countries.
In essence, we as global citizens and digital nomads need to come together, align our resources and become responsible for proper e-waste management. Instead of being cynical or shrugging off the responsibilities on to the developing nations, by becoming aware of the right recycling networks present and acting responsibly, together we can sort out the colossal task of e-waste management.
To read the full story, visit https://e27.co/electronic-junk-growing-problem-dispel-7-myths-e-waste-management-20170926/.