E-Waste Disposal

Introduction to E-waste

This is a research paper on E-waste disposal. The research paper will describe the effects of computer components on the environment upon their disposal. It will also state the current laws at the federal level in the United States and of a few states, like Tennesse.

The research paper will equally describe the current environmental policies related to E-waste disposal while noting the organizations that proposed these policies. It will, however, show how difficult it is implementing these policies. The research paper will informatively highlight and explain the possible alternative approaches of tackling E-waste disposal.

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Nevertheless, what is E-waste disposal? E-waste disposal is a prominent, informal name for electronic products like stereos, computers, VCRs, copiers, televisions, and fax machines that are nearing or at the end of their useful life. Some researchers have estimated that about 75 percent of old electronics are yet to be disposed. This is as a result of the uncertainties on waste management. Additionally, with the robust growth in technology and eminent new products to be introduced in the market, E-waste becomes our point of concern.

Unfortunately, although many of these products can be recycled, reused or refurbished, they have been disposed hazardously, and their effects are being felt globally. E-waste is thus damaging the environment and hence regulations are necessary on the disposal of these items to contain the dire effects of their disposal.

Effects of E-waste to the Environment

E-waste disposal is destroying the environment in various ways depending on the type of the electronic disposed and the method of disposal. Depending on the condition and density of some components of given electronic products, these materials can be rendered hazardous.

In California, nonfunctioning cathode-ray tubes from televisions and monitors are regarded hazardous. They lead to global warming. The uncontrolled recycling process contaminates the soil, air and water with harmful acid and mercury materials. However, the actual results of this contamination are realized in health and economic concerns.

When these materials, are disposed off improperly, they are burned or end up in water supplies creating an inevitable consumption that harms those who are unfortunate to live in proximity to these conditions. The black-markets which often buys the e-wastes to extract the valuable materials later on burn them, which winds up causing diseases to many of the innocent inhabitants.

Condensation and precipitation of burning plastics add fumes from PVCs and PAHs to the global air stream into local water supplies. The vaporization of mercury in uncontrolled fires equally causes health and environmental risks. Tetra Bromo Bisphenol-A (TBBPA) is toxic to aquatic organisms.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) destroy the ozone layer. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers drip and contaminate water[1] PDA, and digital cameras contain toxins that damage the environment once released. Metal components in phones like lead, mercury, cadmium, antimony, and arsenic are all toxic in the body systems as they cause diseases like kidney failure, lung diseases and high blood pressure once taken into the body.

History and facts about E-waste disposal

Before the 1970s, there was a little production of these technologically complicated items but as devices of higher technology came to existence in the latter half of the 20th century, the term electronic waste also came to be. The complicated devices recently introduced consist of over 1,000 different substances. Some of these components are toxic and create serious pollution upon disposal. The production of more electronic devices has increased rapidly in recent times and newer devices are consequently, thrown out.

Though this began in the most developed nations such as the United States and Japan, America remains one of the biggest origins of electronic waste. America is said to dump between 300 million and 400 million electronic items per year, and only about 20% of this e-waste is recycled. In a month, about 50 millions cell phones are replaced worldwide and only 10%of these are recycled.

In the 1990s, the European Union banned e-waste from landfills, and current laws hold manufacturers responsible for e-waste disposal. Unfortunately, large amounts of e-waste have been sent to countries such as China, India and Kenya, where there are lower environmental standards. Most significantly is that E-waste legislation in the United States is currently stalled at the state level.

Possible Solutions to e-waste Disposal

Subject to the growing technological advancements, it is necessary to device ways that can minimize or completely solve problems related to e-waste disposal or management. Manufacturers of electronic products should take responsibility for their production, use and disposal. Manufacturers should design electronic products with long lifespan, safe products, and low risk products and easy to recycle commodities, which are not hazardous to the environment.

Citizens should support companies that make clean electronic products and considerably return used up products to the manufacturers. Relevantly, buyers should think twice before buying a product. The government should make and enforce laws that govern proper disposal of e-waste. Citizens and manufacturers should abide to these rules for a better environment and health standards. Law breakers should be punished severely.

Hazardous materials should not be used to manufacture E-products, and the taxpayer should not bear the cost of recycling old electronics. In this case, manufacturers should take total responsibility for their products until they reach the end of their useful life. After this, manufacturers should take their goods back for re-use, safe recycling or disposal.[2]

Criteria for Solutions to e-waste Disposal

The utmost responsibility of managing e-waste disposal lies with the government. As of such the government should make sure that e-waste is properly disposed by making laws, enforcing them and supervising their implementation. The government should also encourage and support companies that manufacture clean electronic products as well as banning those that violate this policy.

Manufactures also have a responsibility in manufacturing clean products, manufacturing products with a long life span, take them back after the end of useful life and relevantly dispose, re-use or recycle them. Buyers should support companies that manufacture clean products and dispose them properly where possible. Thus, the criteria will go down with responsibility and all stakeholders in this industry should feel the need, actualize it and practice proper e-waste disposal.[3]

Evaluate Solution Idea

The best solution should be timely, effective, cheap and logical. However, the laws that are there are helping partly to eliminate the problem, and as such we may need stricter laws.

Development of the best idea

The best idea should have the support of the federal government, the manufacturers and the citizens. This is not the case in this context, there is no agreement between the manufacturers and the government concerning disposal of E-product wastes.[4]

Conclusion

E-waste is damaging the environment, and regulations are necessary on the disposal of these items. The problem of e-waste disposal exists throughout the world.

People and companies are dumping e-waste without much regulation. The possible outcome would be large amounts of mercury and other chemicals poisoning the earth. Individual people and companies, actually everyone is involved. In the future, the cost could be extensive to clean up any chemicals; land could possibly be unusable in the future. But the federal government, individual states, companies and individual people all have opinions on the matter.

Currently, there are no federal regulations on dumping. Each state has its own regulations for the disposal of e-waste. States have their own regulations. Most of these states say that certain items such as CRT monitors, motherboards, batteries and more have to be disposed off in certain manners and/or recycled. These regulations have helped to reduce the amount of e-waste in landfills. However, strict regulations should be made to recycle or more safely dispose off all these wastes on a federal level and across all states.

The regulations are currently only under state laws, not federal laws. Changes to current laws and regulations would have to be changed to make this a possible solution. These changes would only take place as long as it would for the laws and regulations to be changed. But significantly, the Current regulations have helped reduce contamination from e-waste, but they do not eliminate contamination.

The proposed solution would reduce contamination from e-waste by a very large amount, but a person or company could still avoid following regulations. In that case Government officials and the support of most people would be required to make these changes possible. The federal government should be responsible for implementing the solution. The will should come from the people and the manufacturers.

Bibliography

Do something.org. 11 Facts about E-Waste, http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-e-waste. (accessed November 6, 2011].

Scribd. Effects of e-waste on environment and health, http://www.scribd.com/doc/8466263/Effect-of-Ewaste-on-Environment-Health. (accessed November 6, 2011).

Recycling for Charities. Electronic waste environmental effects, http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/environmental-effects-of-e-waste.php. (accessed November 6, 2011).

GREENPEACE. E-Waste Solutions, ://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste-solutions/. (accessed November 6, 2011).

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. What Is E-Waste. http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/electronics/WhatisEWaste/. (accessed November 6, 2011).

Scribd, Effects of e-waste on environment and health,

GREENPEACE, “E-Waste Solutions,” http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste-solutions/.
Scribd, Effects of e-waste on environment and health, http://www.scribd.com/doc/8466263/Effect-of-Ewaste-on-Environment-Health.
Recycling for Charities, Electronic waste environmental effects, http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/environmental-effects-of-e-waste.php.

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