Electronic Waste – The fastest growing waste problem in the world
The world has become a slave to technology over the last few decades. From outdated fax machines, servers and laptops to old smartphones, toasters, and washing machines, these discarded devices are everywhere. It is no wonder then why electronic waste, also known as e-waste, has become an ever-increasing issue within society with more than 50 million tonnes produced globally. Just one year’s worth of e-waste is equivalent in weight to 4 500 Eiffel Towers!
South Africa is no exception to the problem of electronic waste. According to Keith Anderson, chairman of the e-waste association of South Africa (eWASA), it is estimated that every South African citizen generates over six kilograms of e-waste per annum, equating to a total of 360 000 tonnes of e-waste each and every year.
Why e-waste is such a toxic legacy
Ultimately, it is not only the bulk of broken or unwanted electronics, equipment, and appliances that poses a problem when it comes to disposal. It is also the reality that these items often contain harmful chemicals and substances which can have a detrimental effect on our water, soil, and air.
For instance, if electronics contain traces of lead, lithium, and barium, these components can leak out and enter rivers and lakes. This is a terrifying prospect considering how precious water resources already are in South Africa, and in Africa in general.
Did you know that water which contains traces of lead can lead to an increased risk of kidney damage and hypertension in adults? The toxic effects of lead can have serious consequences in children who can absorb almost five times more ingested lead than adults.
These harmful chemicals may also enter the soil and affect plant life. There is a risk for them to make their way into various food sources, too, ultimately being consumed by humans and animals and having negative consequences on their health.
How to dispose of e-waste
It is reassuring to know that there are a number of companies and non-profits out there focused on ensuring safer and greener e-waste disposal and recycling. Working hand in hand with the non-profit organisation eWASA to support nationwide initiatives to reduce e-waste, many of these companies/non-profits will collect an individual’s or an establishment’s e-waste free of charge. Simply request a collection online. Alternatively, you can opt to drop off your e-waste yourself. Use mywaste.co.za to find an e-waste buyer or recycler near you.
For more information regarding recycling in South Africa, always be sure to get in touch with Postwink.
Image credit: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1188424