E-Waste and the Environment

E-Waste and the Environment

07 Aug 2023

We live in a modern world where electronic appliances make our lives much easier. From coffee makers to phones, TVs and radios, electronics have become an integral part of our daily routines. But, what happens when our radio breaks down, or when a new model of our favorite phone brand comes out?

We throw the previous model in the trash ruthlessly, and gladly start using the new one. When we stop using electronics, they become e-waste, and all e-waste can be extremely dangerous for our environment. And we have even more than 10 reasons to live a climate positive life

This article will present you with all the pollutions that e-waste has brought us and possible solutions to it. Only if we live in harmony with nature, will we be able to live in true peace.

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What is e-waste exactly

Electronic waste encompasses all products that contain a battery or a plug and that you don`t use anymore. E-waste products include everything from your phone, tablet, laptop, fridge, hair drier, coffee maker, washing machine, etc.

A Pile of E-Waste

Some products, such as phones, have a short life, as we tend to replace them once every two years. Others, such as fridges, for example, can last even more than five years. What these items have in common is that they need to be properly disposed of. Preserving nature is our top priority, as our own well-being depends on the air, water, and food that we take in. 

E-waste contributes to air pollution

Electronics often contain raw materials such as cobalt, copper, indium, and neodymium. Without these, it would be nearly impossible to make computers, batteries, and many other pieces of electronics. After disposal, air-burning is the process used to extract these materials and recycle them.

While the goal is noble, the consequences are devastating. Toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium go straight into the air we breathe and contaminate it. Workers who burn e-waste have higher chances of cancer and neurological damage. But the rest of the world is not spared either, as chemicals are constantly spreading.

E-Waste and Air Pollution

Burning of the e-waste is not the only way it pollutes the air. During summer months, these chemicals also release into the air, as the heat triggers toxic chemicals. Burning all the e-waste has another consequence that is detrimental to our environment. The greenhouse gas emission levels only get higher as CO2 is released into the air. Global warming is one of the 10 biggest environmental problems of 2023, partially due to e-waste.

Soil and water pollution are rising due to e-waste as well

Buying a new model of a dishwasher machine or a new phone is amazing. We spend hours researching the best model, its characteristics, price, size, and color. What will happen to our old model is not our concern, we will take it to the recycle center or leave it by the container.

With technological advancement, we own so many electronic appliances in our household that the waste alone reached a staggering 57.4 million tonnes. And do you know how much e-waste we recycle safely? Only 17.4%.

Soil Contamination

What happens to this huge amounts of unrecycled e-waste is that is ends up in landfills, contaminating the soil. Heavy metals and toxic chemicals reach the soil and become ingrained into our crops. Through crops, animals and humans as wells, ingest harmful substances which leads to health deterioration.

When toxic chemicals reach the soil, it is easy to reach underground waters. Finally, they will end up in oceans, and rivers, and in the water that we drink. As if we had forgotten what does eco-friendly really mean?

Formal vs informal e-waste recycling

There are two types of e-waste recycling, formal and informal. Formal recycling companies will reduce the amount of e-waste and extract gold, metal, and other materials in a safe manner. Using proper equipment, measuring toxic levels, following all steps of the procedure.

Recycling e-waste in a formal way is the best solution for the environment, for the people executing the recycling process, and finally for all life forms.

E-Waste in a Bin

Informal recycling is not following the right procedures during the process. For example, the recycler will use mercury to extract gold, which is detrimental for the environment. Needless to say, informal recycling is not legal. It contributes to air pollution, and here you can check the list of the top 15 countries with highest carbon emissions. We need to start nurturing environmental awareness in our children from a very young age, so that we can expect to live in toxic-free environment.

What should you do with your e-waste?

The hazardous impact of e-waste is undoubtable, the only question is what can we do to minimise it? The answer is simple, and consists of only three words: reduce, reuse, recycle. 


When you plan to purchase a new piece of electronic equipment, ask yourself is it really necessary? If you are only buying a new model, while the old one is still functioning properly, maybe you can postpone the purchase. Reduce your e-waste by continuing to use the products that are in great shape.


There are plenty of ways to reduce your e-products. You can choose from one of the following:

  • Sell - Sell your old phone, fridge, or hair dryer on Internet and earn money while saving the planet. E-waste is not dangerous if continue to reuse the products. While you can sell your phone, check out what to do with your used mobile case.
  • Donate - An even better way to reuse your e-waste is to donate the items to charities and people in need. If the items are functioning properly, and are not broken in any way, donate them and you will make both yourself and others happy. Also, if you have a friend or a family member that could use some of your appliances, check with them first.

Giving a Phone to Reduce E Waste


Recycling should be the end of life for electronic products. When your product is no longer functioning, or you just want to replace it with a different one without reusing it, recycle it. How to do recycle your e-waste? We talked about formal and informal recycling of e-waste. The best thing that you can do for environment is to take the product straight to the formal recycling center.

At the recycling center, the workers will know what to do next. Just don`t leave the item unsorted on the streets, or thrown out in the trash. Proper recycling leads to a better future for all of use. It will take time for us to go from smart energy to circular economy, but we will get there.

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