The world is accumulating almost 50 million tonnes of toxic e-waste each year.

e-waste

Computers have gone from being nerdy gadgets to fashion accessories and now the basic necessities of modern life, but mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices may endanger the lives of future generations.

Ming Hung Wong from Hong Kong Baptist University last year told a conference in Melbourne  the lifespan of the average computer has fallen from six years to two, and this change in purchasing and discarding of computers has rapidly increased the amount of electronic waste in landfills around the globe.

This situation raises the risk of a potent mix of carcinogenic chemicals leaching into the soil and groundwater and eventually reaching people via water or food.

“Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, rising by 3-5 per cent every year,” Professor Wong said, noting that many developing countries in Asia and Africa had become the depositories of the rest of the world’s rubbish.

discarded-mobile-phones-620x349

“These e-waste contaminated sites are extremely hard to clean up due to the complex chemical mixtures they contain,” he said.

“However, the time may soon be coming when developing countries will no longer accept e-waste from consumers in developed countries and every nation will have to take care of its own. There is an urgent need to manage e-waste more efficiently in all countries and through better international collaboration.”

James Siow from Australia’s National Institute of Integrative Medicine also told this conference authorities had been too slow to regulate and ban many toxic substances known to affect human health and development.

There’s no excuse these days to dump e waste!

However in 2014 there are ways constructive ways to recycle e waste and South Australia is certainly leading the charge here –

It is estimated that in Australia today, more than 20 million electronic or electrical items are no longer being used and are sitting, redundant, in offices and homes around the country. These items are classed as ‘e-waste’.

The world is accumulating almost 50 million tonnes of e-waste each year, enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground dozens of times.

*In Australia, the volume of discarded electrical gear is growing at three times the rate of domestic waste, with national e-waste group TechCollect estimating Australians stack up 106,000 tonnes a year in their tech junkyard.

E-waste can be environmentally harmful if disposed of in landfill as these items contain toxic and hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium and brominated fire retardants. Items containing these substances are damaging to the environment and should not be sent to landfill. If disposed of correctly, the recyclable components can be recovered for reuse and hazardous materials can be treated appropriately.

What can be recycled from e-waste?

For instance much of what’s used to make todays computers can be recycled, yet more than 1.5 million are dumped in Australian landfill each year. Their re-usable materials include ferrous (iron-based) and non-ferrous metals, glass and various types of plastic.

So exactly what can be recycled from a computer? Almost 99% of the components that make up a PC can be recycled. By recycling we can avoid serious toxins, chemicals and heavy metals from going to landfill and polluting our environment.

Yes e waste has now become big business now, but surely recycling this waste is far more sustainable than filling large toxic holes with this waste around our country for future generations to clean up, let alone the legacy left re major health issues!

So recycle all your e waste, wether your an individual, a company or a corporation!

Relevant links – 

http://www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/e-waste/what-can-be-recycled-from-e-waste

http://www.cleanup.org.au/PDF/au/clean-up-australia—e-waste-factsheet-final.pdf

http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/computers/

http://www.pgmrefiners.com/

*http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/tapping-the-gadget-graveyard-20130501-2irmb.html

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