Rapid advancement in technology is resulting in new electronic products being launched, along with upgraded versions of existing products such as laptops and mobile phones flooding the market on a regular basis. This, coupled with an increase in the buying power of individuals, is resulting in decrease in the shelf life of electronic products. This trend is causing an accumulation of electronic waste that triggers the need to recycle electronic products; which implies the fact that the recycling industry will always have its share in the market.
Developing countries such as India, China, and countries in Africa are facing the heat of the e-waste being illegally dumped in these countries from the developed countries such as U.S and UK. Most of these electronic products are simply plonked in these countries since no facilities exist for safe recycling of these products.
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It is in the recent past that the countries have realized the need to efficiently recycle all the components of the electronic products and reuse them. The recycling rates of various components are very low, for e.g., out of the plastic generated from the electronic products, approximately only five percent of it is recycled. There is an increasing demand for proper e-waste management techniques since e-waste consists of toxic materials, which if not properly disposed, can lead to high levels of pollution. Such pollution, if not controlled, can lead to irreversible damage to human health as well as the environment.
The e-waste market is triggered due to a lot of factors, one being high demand for electronic products. The need for electronic products will never die, which implies the fact that the recycling industry will always have its share in the market. Recycling e-waste is a necessity in today’s scenario since conservation of the environment is a major concern in the minds of every individual. The e-waste that is dumped in the landfills or incinerated causes high level of pollution and the gases released cause harm to the human body. Another reason for recycling e-waste is the recovery of the rare earth metals from the electronic products.
The laws and regulations of various countries have become stringent in terms of efficient disposal of e-waste.
The various companies currently involved in the recycling of electronic products are Cimelia (Singapore), Lifespan technologies (U.S.), Intercon Solutions (U.S.). The companies involved in metal recycling are Umicore (Belgium) and Boliden (Sweden).
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The past decade has witnessed the volume of e-waste increasing at an alarming rate. This is a problem that has the potential to snowball into a disaster, if proper regulations and standards are not set in place. Studies indicate that around eight out of ten computers disposed in the U.S. are sent to developing countries, particularly Asia and Africa. This trend can be attributed to the lack of appropriate domestic recycling facilities for some types of materials in the U.S.
Management of e-waste provides benefits such as job creation, improved technological knowledge, and environmental benefits. In developing countries, job creation also helps in alleviation of poverty and improved health conditions.
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