Every year, the iPhone gets bigger – so big that people begin to wonder if it will even fit in their back pockets!
All jokes aside, there is now an on-going problem that is even BIGGER than this year’s new iPhone release. Introducing the latest model of, drum roll please… global effects of e-waste.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is an umbrella term used to describe discarded electronic devices such as cell phones, televisions, and computers.
But did you know that by simply throwing out your electronics, you can negatively impact both the environment AND your own health?
In this article, we’ll help you understand:
- Why the global cost of throwing away old electronics is so high
- What e-waste bioleaching and bioaccumulation mean for YOUR health
- How you can help solve the problem with environmentally-friendly electronic waste disposal techniques
1. Global Cost of Electronic Waste Problems
Out with the old, in with the new.
Nowadays, consumers can’t resist the urge to buy the most popular and up-to-date electronics on the market.
In fact, in 2020, Apple is estimated to ship out over 195 million units of its newest model, the iPhone 11.
But what does this mean for the millions of old, discarded electronics that are left to decompose in landfills every year?
More often than not, people don’t think about their e-waste environmental liability. And it isn’t entirely the consumers’ fault. Whether from breakdown, slow-down, or just the availability of a newer model, people discard electronics at the slightest inconvenience.
This is because the economics of gadgets actually encourages disposal.
As technology advances, the average lifespan of most electronic devices gets shorter and shorter. With the release of new upgrades every year, computers, phones, and other digital devices are increasingly made to be thrown away.
The result? Global levels of e-waste disposal are on the rise.
But don’t just take it from us. Here are the stats to prove it:
- According to the EPA, e-waste accounts for 5% of the municipal solid waste stream
- In 2020, the global amount of e-waste is predicted to exceed 50 million tons
- International e-waste levels are expected to grow by 8% per year
This, in turn, raises major health and environmental concerns worldwide. Here’s why.
2. E-waste Disposal & Your Health: A Recipe for Toxic Waste
We wish we could say your cellphone is made up of sugar, spice, and everything nice. But in reality, most electronics contain more than just simple ingredients.
In fact, most electronics contain highly toxic elements, including:
- And fire retardants like Bromine
Along with these elements, many electronics like the iPhone are also comprised of 17 specialized ingredients, known as rare earth minerals. These include:
Sounds delicious, right?
Unfortunately, if these elements are ingested in high quantities, it can cause a recipe for disaster.
The hard truth is, we could be consuming these toxic minerals on a day-to-day basis – one gigabyte at a time. But how?
It all has to do with the process of e-waste bioleaching. Let us explain.
Environmental Effects of E-Waste Bioleaching
When electronics aren’t recycled properly, electronic waste can leach out into the surrounding area and contaminate crops, livestock, and wildlife.
When consumed, these toxins are retained in the cells of organisms and passed up the food chain in even higher concentrations, a process called bioaccumulation and biomagnification.
Health Effects of E-Waste: Example of Biomagnification
One day, you and your friends decide to replace your old cell phones with the new iPhone 11. Like most people, you throw away your old phones and they end up in a landfill.
In the hot afternoon sun, the electronics heat up, melt, crack open, and begin to expel mercury, lead, and rare earth minerals into the soil. Rain and other natural elements gradually move these toxins into a nearby water source that local farmers use to water their crops.
After the crops soak up traces of e-waste, they are harvested and sold to the general public. You go to your local supermarket and unknowingly buy vegetables full of these harmful toxins.
Over time, the more you consume these vegetables, the more you begin to bioaccumulate elements like lead and mercury in your cells. Once toxins build up in your system, they can lead to long-term brain and nerve damage.
Doesn’t sound so tasty anymore, does it?
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this global e-waste epidemic.
3. The Best Solution to E-Waste Management
When people think of the word “recycle,” most associate it with paper, plastic, and aluminum. But did you know you can easily recycle your old smartphones too?
Not only is it an environmentally-friendly solution to e-waste management, but big bucks can be made in the recycled electronics industry.
Since China cornered the market in rare earth mineral extraction and production, other countries have looked to recycled electronics for easy access to these valuable elements.
In fact, major electronics companies like Apple now have big plans to use recycled rare earth minerals in their new products. This is a major win for the environment, the economy, and our health.
By reusing rare earth minerals and other elements, we can:
- Reduce environmental destruction caused by mining
- Decrease the spread of dangerous e-waste toxins
- Produce an economy centered around recycled elements
Recycle and reuse. It’s as simple as that!
Help Reduce E-Waste with Great Lakes Electronics
E-waste has become a global concern, but it’s one that can be addressed through safe and efficient electronic waste recycling programs.
At Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, our experienced e-waste management team is ready to take your unwanted electronics devices and ensure that all hazardous materials are properly recycled or reused.
And what’s more?
Great Lakes Electronics Corporation promises full protection of your personal information. Through an in-house shredder system, all drives will be ground and chopped to ensure no one can recover your personal data.
That’s a win-win solution for you and the environment!