Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term for unwanted, broken, damaged, or obsolete electronic products that have reached the end of their useful life and ultimately get discarded. E-waste also includes rejects from the manufacturing, refurbishment, and repair processes.
Smartphones, laptops, televisions, and similar electronic devices are all considered e-waste. In some cases, bigger items like air conditioners, refrigerators, and washing machines may be considered e-waste depending on their technological makeup. Unlike plastic waste, these modern devices can contain hazardous substances such as lead and mercury. Improper waste disposal of electronic devices can damage the environment and pose considerable health risks.
E-waste also contains many valuable, recoverable materials such as aluminum, copper, gold, silver, plastics, and ferrous metals. To conserve both natural resources and the energy needed to produce new hardware from virgin resources, electronic equipment can be refurbished, reused, and recycled instead of being sent to a landfill. This concept forms a fundamental feature of EPR and e-waste management.
E-waste contains toxic and hazardous substances, including heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, beryllium, and chemical flame retardants — all of which have the potential to leach into our soil and water. EPR and the correct processing and waste disposal of electronic products have been implemented to minimize the impact of these hazardous materials on our environment.
Both developing and developed countries have an e-waste problem due to consumers improperly disposing of their electronic devices. Instead of keeping old electronics in the house or dumping them in landfills, recycling, or reusing them is an appropriate option that individuals and organizations should support.
Considering the benefits of electronics recycling, it is essential that people around the world embrace this concept by setting up e-waste collections and making the recycling of e-waste easier.