The E-Waste Problem

According to a report released by the United National Environment Program (UNEP), consumer gadgets will threaten both the environment and public health unless world leaders can determine how to efficiently collect and recycle material from discarded computers, printers, cell phones, televisions, and various other electronic devices, otherwise known as e-waste. 

According to the report, e-waste in China and South Africa will increase by 400% in the next 10 years. India is projected to see an increase of 500%. This is a problem as the developing nations do not yet have a safe or efficient way to recycle e-waste materials. Most of the waste goes to so-called backyard recyclers, unsupervised operations that incinerate e-waste in an attempt to collect the precious metals found in consumer gadgets (gold, silver, palladium, and cobalt). The smoke from these fires is toxic and threatens the health of workers and people in local communities.  

U.N. Under-Secretary General Konrad Osterwalder noted in the report that properly collecting and recycling e-waste can cut greenhouse-gas emissions by eliminating the carbon dioxide required to mine these and other rare metals.

"One person's waste can be another's raw material," Osterwalder said. "The challenge of dealing with e-waste represents an important step in the transition to a green economy."

Earth’s nations generate 40 million tons of e-waste each year. The United States produces 3 million tons, while China follows close behind with 2.3 million tons.

Source: NewsFactor

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Categories: Gadgets and Gizmos | Other

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