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The Dirty and Dangerous Reality of E-Waste

E Waste Pictures

In our modern age, many electronic devices are disposable. But even if they’re written off as junk, they still contain metals and other materials that are hazardous to health and the environment.

In the Chinese city of Guiyu, these discarded devices are dismantled and processed illegally by hand, exposing workers to open air burning and acid baths. This collection of e waste pictures shows the dangerous and dirty side of this process.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

The rapid growth of the digital world is creating large quantities of e-waste. This waste contains hazardous substances that can cause health problems if they are ingested or inhaled, and it is not biodegradable. It also poses a fire risk and can pollute the environment. It is being shipped to developing countries where it is disposed of using low end techniques such as open burning, acid baths and mercury recovery. These techniques are harmful to humans and animals.

E-waste includes all electrical and electronic equipment that is no longer in use, such as hair dryers, mobile phones, televisions and computers. It also includes appliances such as refrigerators and freezers and electronic hardware, such as drills and power tools. E-waste that is marked with the crossed-out wheelie bin symbol must be collected separately from other household waste. If the device is not marked with this symbol it can be included in general household waste. Manufacturers must facilitate re-use of their products right from the start of design and production.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Devices (WEED)

The information technology revolution has exponentially increased the use of electronic equipment but has also created huge amounts of obsolete products. These are called e-waste and include both gray (monitors, computers and printers) and white (refrigerators, washing machines and televisions) and brown (hi-fi equipment, cameras, radios and telephones).

Many of the substances in e-waste contain toxic metals and carcinogens such as lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium and beryllium. When discarded improperly, these chemicals can leach into soil and water and poison wildlife and humans who drink the water or live near contaminated soil.

Illegal dumping of e-waste in developing countries has become an international problem. The primitive methods used to recover valuable components from e-waste in informal backyard operations expose workers to hazardous chemicals, including open burning and acid baths. In addition, the use of flammable solvents to dissolve circuit boards and separate materials can result in dangerous fumes. These unsafe working conditions have been linked to lung disease, thyroid problems, birth defects and cancer in children and expectant mothers.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEED) with Recycling Symbol

E-waste is any discarded electrical or electronic device that contains circuitry and a plug or battery supply. It can contain toxic chemicals such as mercury which are hazardous to human health and the environment. E-waste can be found in many everyday household and business items including:

Due to the rapid expansion of technology e-waste is one of the fastest growing components of solid waste. It can also be a fire hazard if it is not correctly disposed of.

There are several options available for e-waste disposal, both for individuals and businesses. Donation and second-hand sales of working devices are great ways to get rid of unwanted equipment, and reducing the amount that ends up in landfills and incinerators.

Businesses and non-profits should make sure they are following the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act and manufacturer takeback programs to ensure their e-waste is recycled responsibly. It is illegal to throw certain electronics away with regular trash and can be expensive for businesses and non-profits that violate the law.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEED) with Recycling Line Icon Set

Vector eps and high resolution jpg set of 43 recycling and conservation line icons. Includes residential home, blue bin, compost, e-waste, solar energy, paper products, water conservation, no single use items, rechargeable batteries, electric car and wind turbines. Big set with editable stroke outline for easy editing.

The crossed out wheelie bin symbol represents waste electrical and electronic equipment that can be recycled. New electrical goods are marked with this symbol to remind you not to dispose of them with your household waste and to recycle them instead. Goods with a black line underneath the symbol were produced before 2005 and therefore do not qualify for reimbursement via the producer compliance schemes. The symbol can be used both with or without the text ‘Waste electrical and electronic equipment’.

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