Recognizing the Potential and Hazards of Electronic Waste

“One tonne of discarded cell phones is richer in gold than one tonne of gold ore,” said UN Sustainable Cycle Program (SCYCLE) Director Dr Ruediger Kuehr.

Such waste includes items such as cell phones, refrigerators, kettles, televisions and electric toys or sports equipment. Globally, the number called generations e-waste growing two million tons every year.

It is estimated that less than 20 percent is collected and recycled. WEEE Forum Expert Group Director General Pascal Leroy said by making products with shorter life spans and limited repair options, manufacturers have a major role in increasing waste.

“The rapid development of mobile phones has led to the market’s dependence on fast replacement of old devices,” he said.

Consumers also object to recycling their personal electronic equipment. In the UK, a 2019 study by the Royal Society of Chemistry found as many as 40 million gadget who are not used languishing at home. It put pressure on the supply of many precious and rare elements.

Here are some elements smartphone which could be exhausted in the next century. First, gallium is used in medical thermometers, LEDs, solar panels, telescopes and has possible anti-cancer properties.

Both arsenic is used in fireworks, as a wood preservative. All three are silver used in mirrors, reactive lenses that darken in the sun, antibacterial clothing and gloves for use with touchscreens.

Then there is indium for transistors, microchips, fire sprinkler systems, as a coating for ball bearings in Formula One cars and solar panels. Then yttrium was found in white LED lights, camera lenses and can be used to treat several types of cancer.

Lastly there is tantalum used in surgical implants, electrodes for fluorescent lamps, turbine blades, rocket nozzles, and nose plugs for supersonic aircraft, hearing aids, and pacemakers.

Reported BBC, Thursday (14/10), Leroy said consumers want to do the right thing but need to have adequate information and convenient access so that disposing of e-waste properly becomes a social norm. Recycling electronics can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Every tonne of WEEE that is recycled avoids about two tons carbon emission dioxide. So, this is more important because our government enters COP26 which discusses global actions to reduce carbon emissions,” he added.

In the UK, the organization Material Focus has a zip code finder for people to find recycling points e-waste nearby for items like toaster and old cables.

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