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E-waste an Issue    
E-waste is the fastest growing and most toxic waste we produce.The amount of electronic products discarded globally has skyrocketed recently, with 20-50 million tonnes generated every year. If such a huge figure is hard to imagine, think of it like this - if the estimated amount of e-waste generated every year would be put into containers on a train it would go once around the world!
 
E-waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream because people are upgrading their mobile phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment and printers more frequently than ever before. Mobile phones and computers are causing the biggest problem because they are replaced most often. In Europe e-waste is increasing at three to five percent a year, almost three times faster than the total waste stream. Developing countries are also expected to triple their e-waste production over the next five years
 
One of the major challenges is recycling the printed circuit boards from the electronic wastes. The circuit boards contain such precious metals as gold, silver, platinum, etc. and such base metals as copper, iron, aluminum, etc. Conventional method employed is mechanical shredding and separation but the recycling efficiency is low. Alternative methods such as cryogenic decomposition have been studied for printed circuit board recycling, and some other methods are still under investigation.
Few facts to be known:-
  • The average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005.
  • Mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.
  • Around 355.2 million computers were sold worldwide in 2011.
  • 1735.9 million Mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2012.
E-Waste in Developing Countries
 
Due to increased safety rules in Western countries, it is 10 times cheaper to export e-waste to developing countries than it is to locally recycle .  Though some e-waste exportation is legal, a large portion is illegal.  Electronics exported under the category of ‘used’ or ‘second-hand’ goods are not subject to any restrictions, and numerous other loopholes, export schemes, and corrupt officials have been discovered.
 
Common e-waste destinations include China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, and Brazil, just to name a few.  China is by far the most popular dumping ground and receives an estimated 70% of the 20-50 million tons to global e-waste produced yearly. 
 
Human Health and Environmental Issues
 
It is an undeniable fact that e-waste in “backyard” recycling operations poses a major threat to both human health and the environment. Valuable metals such as gold and copper can be extracted from electronics, but this recovery process is often done in the cheapest and most unsafe way affecting the enviroment and human health badly.
 
Despite the obviously toxic nature of the most common ‘recycling’ techniques, over 90% of e-waste landfills or dumps have no environmental standards.
 
Workers at e-waste sites have little to no access to gloves or face masks and are often too desperate for work or uniformed to care about the health risks.  These workers are prone to skin rashes, cancer, weakening of the immune system, and respiratory, nerve, kidney, and brain damage.
 
E-waste an Issue
   
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