Electronic waste entails any equipment that has been discarded. This includes broken electronic materials, which are either thrown into the garbage or are donated to charity resellers like goodwill. In most cases, the items go unsold in the stores. Many people are thriving on technology since it plays a huge role in the day-to-day livelihood. They hence thrive on using the latest technologies, where they own the latest and shiniest gadgets. When the items are out of date, then they tend to sell them or properly recycle them. However, many of these gadgets are thrown away and become undocumented waste.
According to the Global E-waster monitor, in 2016 alone, humanity generated over 44 million metric tons of e-waste, equivalent to 6.1kg s per person (Ritcher, 2017). Only 20% of this waste was recycled properly. The rest was undocumented and hence was likely dumped, traded, or recycled under poor conditions. This hence poses a major challenge to the environment since it leads to its degradation and hinders the conservation efforts in place. This calls for better measures by firms and individuals to set and monitor targets and identify the best policies that can help in reducing the type of wastes caused by the irresponsible dumping of waste materials.
From the graph, it is manifest that the developed nations pose the greatest threat of electronic waste. China and the United States, which are the world-leading economies, generated the highest amounts of e-waste by a wide margin. This, however, does not mean that they have the highest per capita waste generation since there are other smaller nations with similar living standards and lots of waste from the dumped electronics (Ritcher, 2017). According to research undertaken by Global E-waste monitor, Norway is one of the leading global e-waste sources, since an average Norwegian generated 28.6 kg of e-waste, followed by the United Kingdom with 24.9 kg (Snider, 2010). The developing nations had lower rates per person in terms of electronic dumping since the generation levels of electronic devices, and household appliances are not as high.
Hence, there is a need for a sustainable solution on how to cope with the challenges posed by the electronic waste that comprises toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and beryllium. The e-waste has materials that can be harmful not only to the environment but also to the people since they can cause harm to humans. One of the most sustainable solutions to the challenges of e-waste is designing better products. Manufacturers need to design electronics that are safer, and more durable, recyclable, and repairable (Snider, 2010). They also need to use less toxic materials to reduce the harm of the devices to the environment and humans. There is also a need for companies and individuals to encourage the recycling of these materials. This ensures that no devices are thrown away, yet they are in a condition that can be used or recycled by other people. In addition to recycling, there is a need to ensure that the manufactured materials are easy to repair and reuse. This will ensure that people do not easily get tired of electronics and make good use of them. By developing such measures, then the problem of e-waste materials in the environment will find sustainable solutions and help create a better and safer environment in the future.
Ritcher, F. (2017). These Countries Generate the Most Electronic Waste.
Snider, L. (2010). Framing E-waste regulation. American Society of Criminolog. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/chart/2283/electronic-waste/