e-waste often contains substances that are harmful to humans and the environment if not properly treated. Effective rules for monitoring and treating e-waste are required for its safe disposal.
e-waste is a growing problem. According to a UN report, the amount of e-waste is set to grow by more than 30% by 2017. The world produced 54 million tons of e-waste in 2012 with the usual suspects, US and China, taking top places.
By 2017, refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, DVDs, computers, monitors, e-toys and other products on the dump heap with a battery or electrical cord would fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway covering three quarters of the Equator!
Lot of the e-waste finds its way to underdeveloped countries where it is estimated that two-thirds of the recycling is done by unorganized groups. Because such groups do not follow safe recommended practices, not only toxic substances pollute air, soil and water but the people around are exposed to dangerous gases etc.
Electronic gadgets contain valuable minerals like gold, silver, platinum, rare-earth elements etc. and loss of these in unregulated and inefficient recycling of e-waste represents a serious loss of resources.
What we need is good international regulations for safe and efficient handling of e-waste. The increasing amounts of e-waste is a reality and we just need to learn to cope with it without damaging our health and environment further.