All About E-Waste Management
Last updated on July 20th, 2022
Over the past two decades, the market for electronic devices has experienced massive growth. The major factors influencing this growth have been the adoption of smartphones, wearable electronics, and the use of smart devices fueling everything from cars to homes. Unfortunately, this has also meant a rise in e-waste, especially in the wake of a lack of emphasis on e-waste management and recycling.
What is E-Waste?
Electronic Waste or E-Waste is the name given to electronic products that are discarded as they are no longer deemed useful. This includes products at the end of their lifecycle of ones that are discarded because they become obsolete in the wake of new technology. A few examples of such products include Stereos, VCRs, Fax Machines, 16 Bit gaming consoles, etc. While some of these products are refurbished and sold to markets where they might still be a novelty, reuse, recycling, and refurbishing of electronic products is not as common as many of us would hope.
What are the Hazards of E-Waste?
In 2019, the global e-waste generation was estimated at 53.6 million metric tons. This is equivalent to 350 cruise ships forming a 125km long line. With new technology resulting in faster replacement of household appliances, laptops, and smartphones, e-waste has become a major global issue. Not to mention, there are an estimated 1.4 billion phones produced each year. Stacked together, that’s enough phones to reach theInternational Space Station (ISS). With a majority of phones replaced every 2 years, that is a lot of e-waste!
Many products that are considered as e-waste are hazardous and simply discarding them in a landfill isn’t enough to mitigate the hazardous effects. For example, a law in California, USA considers nonfunctioning Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) products such as television and monitors to be hazardous.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adverse impacts on the health of children has been linked to electronic waste. This includes DNA damage, changes in lung function and respiratory effects, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Direct contact with heavy metals like cadmium and chromium, the leaching of toxic material in soil, water, and food is a major health hazard caused by e-waste. Furthermore, even recycling e-waste can result in injuries and health-related issues including a high risk of cancer, especially when done using unsafe methods.
E-Waste Management consists of collecting e-waste through a suitable mechanism to minimize its adverse impact. A part of that includes recycling e-waste for reusing and reprocessing.
According to estimates, among the e-waste produced in 2019, only 17.4% was formally managed or recycled, whereas a large number of electronic waste was dumped illegally in low and middle-income countries. This is where the waste is usually informally recycled usually without any consideration of safety standards.
The Lifecycle of an Electronic Product
E-waste management requires careful planning for the management of discarded electronic devices. The typical lifecycle of an electronic device includes its journey from the manufacturer to the retailer, and consumer, followed by possibly a secondary user. For example, a secondary user might include someone who might purchase a refurbished product. E-waste management requires effectively collecting recycling, and refurbishing products.
E-Waste Management and Recycling
Electronic waste that reaches a recycling program, might be inspected to be resold, refurbished, or checked for parts that can be reused. Items that cannot be reused might be shredded. Whereas, sorted materials are sold globally. Following are a few typical steps for recycling e-waste to extract valuable materials such as precious metals, glass, and plastic.
1. Collecting E-Waste: The first step in the recycling process is to collect e-waste and transport it for further process.
2. Sorting and Segregation: Items are sorted into different categories such as CRT television, LED television, printers, computer parts, etc.
3. Weighing and Presorting: The items are weighed and presorted, where hazardous content is removed from the waste.
4. Shredding: The shredding process involves shredding material into smaller parts that can be easily sorted on the assembly line. During this process, some material is discarded, whereas usable material is sent to the secondary shredder.
5. Recovering Valuable Material: Shredded material is sorted into valuable material, and the discarded hazardous material is sent for further processing.
Editable E-Waste Presentation Templates
Discussing e-waste in the form of a PowerPoint presentation requires illustrations that can help explain elaborate concepts with ease. This is because the complexity of the topic can make it hard to explain the concepts such as e-waste management, recycling, refurbishing, and sustainability. Below are a few recommended PowerPoint templates to help you discuss e-waste in your presentations and you can download free waste management PowerPoint templates here.
Waste Management Industry PowerPoint Template
This is a comprehensive PowerPoint template with waste management-related slides. With this template, you can discuss e-waste management, recycling, the environmental impact of e-waste, and showcase data using editable timelines and infographic slides.
E-waste has been subject to much debate in recent years. With the emphasis on net zero emissions, environmental conservation, and mitigating the effects of climate change and global warming, e-waste is a topic that cannot be ignored. External pressure over the coming years is likely to force companies to consider making changes that might affect their supply chain, production methods, and corporate image.
As the surge in electronic device growth increases, so will the need for more efficient means of e-waste management. This also includes the need for more efficient methods to recycle, reuse, and refurbish electronic devices to minimize their hazardous effect on the environment and the lives of billions of people around the world.