What is e-waste?

What is e-waste? How do Nigerians make money on it? Get the full in information on how it is dangerous to make your living working with e-waste! Read the article right now!


Today, e-waste has become a new environmental problem of all mankind. On the replacement of old mobile phones, digital cameras, personal computers, printers, scanners, and various small gadgets come new devices and gadgets sending their predecessors in a landfill. All of this leads to the fact that the world quite rapidly accumulates e-waste. Today the number of electronic devices, from which mankind refuses annually, is considered between 50 to 70 million tons per year.

E-waste definition and e-waste facts

e-waste problems

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a general term for different electrical and electronic equipment, the life of which has ended. These include televisions, computers, monitors, cell phones, laptops, stereos, copiers, VCRs, fax machines and almost all household items with electrical parts, batteries or different power supplies. Today, e-waste creates the largest proportion of all waste in any society. Studies in Europe have shown that the rate of formation of e-waste is three times more to the rate of household waste. Unfortunately, the calculation of the rate of waste formation has not taken into account 75% of electronic waste, which is stored at the home of ordinary people.

E-waste problems

chinese child e-waste

Plenty of people have no idea that electronics have different kinds of harmful chemicals in them. The glass (a typical CRT) has almost ten pounds of lead inside, for example. Significant amount of mercury is often found in different flat panel displays. Plastic cases are coated with dangerous fire-resistant chemicals. They are called poly-brominated flame retardants. They are one of the nastiest and the most harmful chemicals around. We cannot throw such kind of chemicals into our landfill. They can contaminate soils and also leach into important water supply.

E-waste recycling and e-waste solutions

kids e-waste

For proper electronics recycling, you must disassemble and also separate each type of material very carefully. Then the raw materials may be successfully used for making some new products. But, unfortunately, it doesn't occur as often as you may think. A lot of the electronics that people think are successfully ‘recycled’ are shipped to the countries of the third world. Did you know that?

You will ask ‘why’. Well, it turned out that it's rather too expensive to recycle any e-waste properly. It's very expensive because this process is extremely labor-intensive, and it also needs a lot of money because (at least in America) any environmental strict laws demand e-recyclers to use only environmentally friendly processes.

E-waste disposal

electronic waste

READ ALSO: What are environmental sanitation problems in Nigeria?

However, the labor is inexpensive in our developing world. Those strict environmental laws do not exist in the whole world. Full containers of different outdated electronics are commonly shipped to such places as Nigeria and China, where people look through electronics in search of pieces and bits that are still useful. After the searchers pick out the worthy bits, the ‘extractors’ start breaking things apart. People make their living breaking different copper wires and gold from the electrical connectors. But without any eco-friendly process, harmful chemicals after the extraction process are leaking into the ground water and the rest of the broken electronic waste litters the landscape.

The UNR (United Nations Environmental) agenda characterizes this process as: ‘In plenty of countries, the whole communities, including little children, make their living by cleaning metal, plastic and glass from old computers. For removing a small amount of gold people need to melt capacitors over the coals. Plastic of electrical cables is burn in different barrels to get the copper wire. According to the BAW (Basel Action Network), in each computer there is about 6 US dollars of worthy material. It’s not much considering that the plastic burning has dioxins and other different toxic gases in the air. A huge amount of unusable parts are reset nearby, letting the heavy metals pollute the region’.

How you can save our planet? E-waste management

device recyling

You may maintain and repair devices, which can dramatically improve their usable lifetime. If we could work together and double the length of lifetime of the average used gadget, we would manage to halve the number of e-waste in the world. If we can take care of our electronic devices properly and have a possibility to fix them whenever they break down, we can help the Earth.

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