An Introduction to e-Waste

An Introduction to e-Waste
| 3 Min read

Have you ever wondered what happens to your favourite laptop after you throw it away? If thrown into the garbage bin, it goes straight to landfills. If given off to an e-waste collector, they will send it to recyclers.

There are different paths these electronic and electrical waste goes in, depending on how they are disposed of.

The concept of e-waste is still new in India but is of utmost importance.

Did you know that of the total 1,014,961 tonnes of e-waste generated, only 3 – 10% of it gets recycled?

Is it bad? Yes, it’s extremely bad, for both us and the environment. The other 90% of the e-waste generated ends up in landfills, incinerators, or is used for illegal trading. The burning of waste has severe effects on the environment.

This blog educates you about what e-waste is and what all products come under the title.

What is E-Waste?

e-waste means electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes. 

In simple terms, e-waste is an abbreviation for electronics and electrical equipment and its parts that have been disposed of by the owner.

The term waste here implies that the product has no further use or used to its maximum potential. 

From a small product such as a circuitry wire to a product as big as a refrigerator, after usage falls under e-waste. To give you a clear idea, we could categorize e-waste into the following.

What falls under the category of e-waste?

Based on the type of product, e-waste can be categorized into the following.

Screens, Monitors

  • Tablets
  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Monitors
  • Televisions
  • Notebooks

Home Appliances

MicrowavesHome Entertainment Devices
Electric cookersElectronic Utilities
Washing machines, clothes dryers, dish-washing machines, electric stoves,Massage Chairs
HeatersHeating Pads
FansRemote Controls
Night LightsTelevision Remotes
TreadmillsElectrical Cords
FitBitsLamps – LED lamps, fluorescent lamps, and high-intensity discharge lamps
Smart WatchesSmart Lights
Heart MonitorsDiabetic Testing Equipment

Temperature exchange

Temperature exchange equipment, more commonly referred to as cooling and freezing equipment

  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Air conditioners
  • Heat pumps

Small Equipment

Vacuum cleanersMicrowaves
Electric kettlesVentilation equipment
Toasterselectric shavers
Weighing Scalescalculators
radio setsvideo cameras
small electrical and electronic toolselectrical and electronic toys
small medical devicessmall monitoring and control instruments

IT and Telecommunication Equipment

Mobile phones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), routers,
pocket calculators, personal computers
printers, telephones
Office and Medical Equipment
Copiers/PrintersDialysis Machines
WiFi DonglesImaging Equipment
IT Servers and Server RacksDefibrillator
Phone & PBX systemsPower Distribution Systems (PDUs)
Audio & Video EquipmentAutoclave
Network Hardware (i.e. servers, switches, hubs, etc.)Cords and Cables
Power Strips & Power SuppliesUninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS Systems)
Large printing machines, copying equipmentphotovoltaic panels

Why is e-waste Harmful?

The chemicals that are present in electrical and electronics products are toxic for both the environment and humans. Most products contain chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, brominated flame retardants, and beryllium. When mishandled, they get mixed with water, soil and air.

Additionally, the harmful effects of e-waste are only increasing due to illegal export to countries for disposal. 

Inevitably, more e-waste dumped into water bodies, more toxin traces show up in groundwater.

What’s the Solution to Streamlining e-waste?

The first and foremost thing consumers should do is become aware of what products they are using and how they are disposing of them off. Conscious disposal of e-waste helps reduce the rising pile of waste and the harmful results it has.

Secondly, the 3 R’s is a great solution. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. However, reducing the use of electronics and electrical products is not easy and at one point, impossible.

Reusing products until they reach their end-of-life stage. Instead of throwing away products after using, donating or selling them is a good idea.

Recycling of e-waste is popularly opted around the world. When you give away a product, for example, a mobile phone to a recycler, it goes a long way. This mobile phone and its parts could be used in manufacturing new mobile phones, other non-reusable parts get disposed of carefully and consciously.

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