Electronic and electrical waste, or e-waste, covers a variety of different products that are thrown away after use.
Large household appliances, such as washing machines and electric stoves, are the most collected, making up more than half of all collected e-waste.
This is followed by IT and telecommunications equipment (laptops, printers), consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels (video cameras, fluorescent lamps) and small household appliances (vacuum cleaners, toasters).
All other categories, such as electrical tools and medical devices, together make up just 7.2% of the collected e-waste.
The European Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment divides waste into ten categories:
Although electronics constitute an indispensable part of everyday life, their hazardous effects on the environment cannot be overlooked or underestimated. The interface between electrical and electronic equipment and the environment takes place during the manufacturing, reprocessing, and disposal of these products. The emission of fumes, gases, and particulate matter into the air, the discharge of liquid waste into water and drainage systems, and the disposal of hazardous wastes contribute to environmental degradation. In addition to tighter regulation of e-waste recycling and disposal, there is a need for policies that extend the responsibility of all stakeholders, particularly the producers, beyond the point of sale and up to the end of product life.
– Burning to recover metal from wires and cables leads to emissions of brominated and chlorinated dioxins, causing air pollution. Atmospheric pollution is caused by dismantling activities as dust particles loaded with heavy metals and flame retardants enter the atmosphere. These particles either redeposit (wet or dry deposition) near the emission source or, depending on their size, can be transported over long distances.
– The dust can also enter the soil or water systems and, with compounds found in wet and dry depositions, can leach into the ground and cause both soil and water pollution. Soils become toxic when substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are deposited in landfills.
3 ways of recycling e-waste
How to Turn Electronic Waste Into Raw Materials | Change The Future