The Daily Illini

E-waste crisis needs to be recognized

Abandoned+e-waste+acid+stripping+operation+lies+along+waterway+in+Guiyu%2C+China.+E-waste+is+the+disposal+of+broken+or+obsolete+electronic+components+or+materials.+Columnist+Chantelle+draws+attention+to+the+negative+effects+of+the+technological+luxuries+of+the+developed+world.
Back to Article
Back to Article

E-waste crisis needs to be recognized

Abandoned e-waste acid stripping operation lies along waterway in Guiyu, China. E-waste is the disposal of broken or obsolete electronic components or materials. Columnist Chantelle draws attention to the negative effects of the technological luxuries of the developed world.

Abandoned e-waste acid stripping operation lies along waterway in Guiyu, China. E-waste is the disposal of broken or obsolete electronic components or materials. Columnist Chantelle draws attention to the negative effects of the technological luxuries of the developed world.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Abandoned e-waste acid stripping operation lies along waterway in Guiyu, China. E-waste is the disposal of broken or obsolete electronic components or materials. Columnist Chantelle draws attention to the negative effects of the technological luxuries of the developed world.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Abandoned e-waste acid stripping operation lies along waterway in Guiyu, China. E-waste is the disposal of broken or obsolete electronic components or materials. Columnist Chantelle draws attention to the negative effects of the technological luxuries of the developed world.

By Chantelle Hicks, Columnist

How many cellphones have you had in your lifetime? Laptops? Microwaves? Have you ever thought about the afterlife of your electronic and electrical appliances after you are done with them?

To us, it’s easy to throw old computers, phones and appliances in the trash after use. But this trash is creating a burden on billions of people in developing nations. Many people are unaware of this trend — known as the e-waste crisis — and what it entails.

E-waste is the disposal of broken or obsolete electronic components and materials. In 2018, Apple sold 217.72 million iPhones (not including laptops, iPads or other electronics from their product line). The problem is, what happens to the old phones of these millions of people? Odds are they ended up in Hong Kong or somewhere in Africa.

In a recent article from Scmp.com,  Michael Standaert discusses where e-waste, comes from and where its placed.

“Most of that waste has ended up in Hong Kong from abroad,” Standaert writes. “The site is one of hundreds across the New Territories where waste is processed, mostly on land zoned for agriculture.”

This is alarming because countries like the U.S. are placing our trash in someone else’s backyard as though it means nothing. Not only is that a land issue for an already overpopulated country, but it’s also an even bigger issue because it affects the land they use for growing food.

Hazardous materials, like cathode ray tube monitors, require special handling for disposal due to dangerous chemicals used in their construction. These chemicals can be found in millions of our old electronics. Communities in Hong Kong don’t have those special materials and thus are at risk of many diseases.

Commonly discarded electronic products include computers, televisions, stereos, copiers and fax machines. These electronic products contain dangerous chemicals, and once skin comes in contact with them, they become harmful.

The article then goes on to talk about an investigation conducted in the U.S. by the Basel Action Network. The investigation consisted of putting trackers on the various types of electronic devices. The devices were then dropped off at local recycle tech places and donation bins. From there, they were able to see where the devices actually go. The results found “of the first 65 that left the U.S., 37 made it (to Hong Kong); since September (2017), 10 more have arrived.”

Our e-waste is coming from all over the world and placed in China.

If you still aren’t convinced we need to make a change, what if I told you it is deadly to thousands who are around the waste?

Well, Environment Research Letters took air quality samples from different dumping grounds in China and found “e-waste pollution in the air, that workers in these e-waste dumps breath(e) in constantly, causes inflammation and stress that leads to heart disease, DNA damage and possibly even cancer.”

Our trash is deadly and measures have to be put in place to ensure safety for the people and the environment.

With more technology being created constantly, people are forced to upgrade and get new devices without making sure the older devices don’t end up polluting foreign countries. There are no laws  protecting against the export of e-waste into developing countries. This waste is affecting their quality of life in more than one area. It’s time people see the results of a society that consistently wants new and improved technology.

Chantelle is a sophomore in Media.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment