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The Environmental Impact of E-Waste How Recycling Electronics Can Make a Difference

Post Date: 29-Jan-2024

We all love our electronic devices, don't we? They make everything easier. With new technology coming every week, they are getting better and better every season. But do you know millions of defective or dead electronic equipment end up in municipal solid waste yearly? 

It is E-waste, a threat to the planet’s ecosystem and environment. And it is increasing with every tick of the clock. This article will discuss why many publications and scientists consider e-waste a “time bomb” today and how small steps can extend the time before it eventually explodes. 

So, this e-waste is divided into four main categories: 

  • Large appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers; 
  • IT gadgets, including PCs, laptops, and equipment; 
  • consumer electronics such as televisions and cell phones; 
  • and miscellaneous waste such as microwaves, medical devices, and toys. 

The E-waste upsurge 

New appliances are introduced every year, rendering consumers’ existing appliances outdated. Humans, to maintain with the fast-paced world of development, are throwing away their electronic devices more rapidly than ever. Additionally, many people ignore the waste created because of their urge to buy advanced devices frequently. Their choices haunt marginalised communities, but one day, they will haunt everyone.  

The dilemma of E-waste management

More and more scientists and researchers are now studying the impact of e-waste and the ignorance of governments (and consumers) regarding this particular issue. The creation of e-waste is a tragedy, but improper recycling practices are the real reason behind this man-made environmental catastrophe.  

Why must we care?

According to research, around 80% of e-waste is disposed of in ways that harm the environment. Moreover, a recent study also revealed that e-waste contains different toxic substances that, if released into the atmosphere, can damage the planet and its species in unimaginable ways. These substances do not directly affect the users but contaminate the environment and damage human health if dumped incorrectly. Since more than 16.5 million waste pickers are underage, it is equally important to consider its hazardous effect on children exposed to e-waste.

Current methods of e-waste management

These are the three common ways adopted by countries for e-waste management: 

  • Dumping e-waste into the waste bins 
  • Landfilling with municipal waste
  • Acid leaching or baths
  • Stripping plastic coatings 
  • Disassemblement of equipment 
  • Scavenging 

The lack of proper recycling methods is a leading cause of the release of toxic materials such as chromium, manganese, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) into the environment. The harmful and adverse effects of this impetuosity towards e-waste management are shocking but not surprising. 

So, how much e-waste is recycled properly if all the waste is recycled improperly?

A study shows only 17.4% of e-waste is recycled correctly. At this baffling rate, the impact of the e-waste on the planet will be even more severe, leading to environmental damages no one can overlook. 

Environmental Consequences of Improper Recycling Practices 

Adopting improper e-waste recycling procedures, such as landfilling, can cause soil contamination. Imagine dumping a tonne of toxic man-made chemicals in a pit and leaving it there for nature to deal with; the consequences would be disastrous, undoubtedly. 

A recent study suggests the possibility of soil contamination increases if large quantities of lead and mercury surround the soil. This practice can poison humans and animals if they come in contact with the earth. These chemicals can also poison drinkable water, rendering it unusable and possibly fatal.

How harmful exactly are these toxic chemicals? 

The consequences science measured are certainly very harmful. In one study, scientists reviewed the impact of e-waste on people with the most exposure to these detrimental chemicals. The results suggested a striking decline in birth ways and a surge in abortions of people working at e-waste dismantling sites. 

The adverse health effects were found not only in adults but in children as well. Most children are at risk of developing lung diseases and neurocognitive issues.  

Additionally, the impact of e-waste reaches far beyond the landfill sites. These toxic chemicals do not shy away from seeping into the soil and stretching out to poison the terrestrial and aquatic life.

Proper recycling methods for e-waste

If we want to conserve the environment, we must be mindful and responsible for our actions. A few sustainable practices might not avert the upcoming climate crisis, but they can delay it until scientists discover better options. 

Find a recycling centre

For people residing in the UK, getting in touch with a certified e-waste recycling centre should be the first step. Recycling companies like ours responsibly recover chemicals for reuse and dispose of substances to minimise their environmental impact. These companies recycle tablets, laptops and electronic appliances and promote sustainability. 

Sell and buy used or refurbished gadgets

Do humans get an Academy Award for frequently upgrading their gadgets? Certainly not! To reduce the e-waste, selling phones is a saner method than throwing them away. If you sell functional electronics and buy refurbished or second-hand gadgets, it lowers the demand for new products. Consequently, companies will reduce the scale of production to cater the demands. This practice will work in two ways to help the Earth: 

  • by suppressing the carbon footprint of electronics.
  • by conserving raw materials. 

Spread awareness

The amount of e-waste, if collected at a place, will be impossible. Therefore, one million people will be more helpful than one person adopting sustainable practices. And spreading awareness evokes a sense of responsibility towards the climate and ecosystem. It is essential to conduct sessions and to actively demonstrate the dismay in front of legislators ignoring this crucial issue. 


E-waste is a threat to humans, animals, and the planet. We must hold companies and governments responsible for facilitating this environmental catastrophe. Meanwhile, adopting sustainable practices can reduce the impact of e-waste and save millions of children exposed to toxic materials daily. The best way is to engage in practices to promote companies recycling electronics to recycle phones instead of throwing them away. Until now, humans have no other habitat but the Earth. We must save it before it is too late.