Trash comes in all shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to technology. Every year Canadians throw away more than 272 000 tons of e-waste. Here is a look at How To Get Rid Of Your Old Electronics, The Eco Way!
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is not your average garbage; it has serious environmental consequences when disposed of improperly. Here’s what you need to know.
E-waste is a popular informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic waste is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream. And did you know that consumer electronics contribute to 40 percent of all the lead found in landfills?
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Agbogbloshie, Ghana | December 19, 2015 A young man carts electronic waste destined for the Agbogbloshie dump's burning fields – where young men – almost all internal migrants from Ghana's northern Tamale region – toil in toxic smoke, burning down manufactured parts into their basic copper components. The dump works with a specific process. First there are the buyers of the waste, men who cart in used computers, automobiles and any other junk they can get their hands on. In turn this manufactured garbage is sold to small "storefronts" in the dump that distribute it to the younger men to burn. Below that strata of employment are the boys that walk through the debris fields picking up the copper remains hoping to collect enough to fill a kilo bag. The resulting raw copper is sold back to construction and mineral component wholesalers, which reintroduce the recycled copper back into the world market. A wetland suburb of Accra, Agbogbloshie is home to a vast dumping ground – once labeled the world's largest e-waste site – that covers an unstable swamp, the garbage and soot a carpet that sways with every step, sometimes swallowing new migrants who arrived hoping to make a slim income to feed themselves each day. While it's been disputed that western e-waste has made its way to Ghana, we should take a moment to think about what happens to all our old computers and phone everything we upgrade. Where does it all go? And how can we do it better?
@benlowy © Benjamin Lowy / #irimages
#onassignment #photojournalism #documentary #reportage #ghana #Agbogbloshie #ewaste
In addition, these items are traditionally not disposed of properly, and it’s leading to growing health and environmental risks for people in the developing world.
The e-waste we produce here in North America is usually shipped to developing countries like China, India, and Pakistan, the chemicals found in computer parts are very toxic, not only to the environment but to our health as well.
Typically recycling in those countries involves open burning of plastic waste, exposure to toxic solders and river dumping of acids. Toxins include mercury, which can cause brain damage, Beryllium which causes lung cancer and chromium which can damage our DNA.
Lead, Cobalt, and Arsenic are also commonly found in e-waste. Despite the pollution and risk to life, the US refuses to ban the export of e-waste.
In the United States, the average cost to recycle a computer is 30 dollars, in China its 2 dollars. And did you know From 1997-2007 500 million computers were considered obsolete?
To help, recycle and make sure the manufacturer does not export the e-waste also, support laws that make companies reduce toxins in their products.
As technology advances computers have shorter and shorter life spans. So, what happens to all the old models once newer models are released, the same goes for our tv’s, cell phones, printers, and digital cameras.
The good news is you can make environmentally responsible choices with your computers and other electronics.
Did you know the amount of energy used to manufacture new computers is four times what it takes to extend the life of an old computer? In most cases, the best environmental choice is to upgrade or repair for as long as you can.
Adding memory, or RAM is one way to upgrade your computer. A gigabyte of memory costs a little over a hundred dollars and you can install it on your own.
If your computer is broken, its a little more difficult, depending on your brand of computer you may have to order new parts and then have them shipped to you, and in some cases you have send the computer to a faraway land to be fixed. Not the most eco-friendly choices.
Generic computers without name brand parts can be easily updated. Check your warranty though some of them come without software and technical support may be hard to find.
If you do buy a name brand computer, find one with a strong take-back program that will guarantee your computer won’t end up in our landfill. Dell, for example, takes back all its branded products for free. Apple also has the Electronic recycling program, but there is a fee, check the website for all the details.
The next question is what’s better, a laptop or desktop. Well, even though laptops are smaller they have just as many chemicals to dispose of, so as far as the environment is concerned, its a toss up.
You definitely want to replace some computers, if you still have a large cathode ray tube or CRT monitor, replace it with a flat panel liquid crystal display. A 15 inch LCD screen uses a fraction of the energy than a CRT does. when it comes to your other electronics, like digital cameras, printers, televisions, and cell phones, it’s not cost effective and in most cases not possible to repair them, contact the manufacturer to see if they have a return policy.
In Toronto, you can get rid of your e-waste by getting in touch with the folks here at ADL Process.
Bottom line, think before you throw!