16 September 2016
The dangers of irresponsible e-waste disposal may be vastly underestimated. If not disposed of carefully, electrical and electronic equipment containing many hazardous materials can be seriously damaging to both human health and the environment, and may also be contributing to depletion of the ozone layer, which in turn damages human health as UV exposure increases.
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.” Annie Leonard
As well as chemicals such as mercury, lead and cadmium leeching into soil and groundwater, contaminating food and water supplies, when burned rather than recycled, e-waste emits toxic gases including carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide that lead to air pollution and further the depletion of the fragile ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Because of this depletion of the ozone layer, we have global warming which can create drastic changes in the climatic patterns of the planet, as well as increasing incidences of skin cancer, premature aging of skin and cataracts.
Fluids typically found in heating and cooling appliances, such as fridges, freezers and oil-filled radiators manufactured before 1994 are likely to contain ozone depleting substances such as CFCs and HCFCs. Other common hazardous substances found in e-waste include:
1. Arsenic, found in LED lights.
2. Lithium, found in rechargeable Li-On batteries.
3. Selenium, found in photocopiers.
4. Lead, found in batteries and CRT screens.
5. PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls), found in transformers and condensers.
“After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager’” William S. Burroughs
The importance of responsible computer recycling has never been more vital, if you want to play your part in reducing potentially health damaging and ozone depleting e-waste, as well as keeping your data secure. So if your company is one that is committed to the ethical recycling of its obsolete computers and technology products, make sure secure and environmentally friendly computer recycling that adheres to proper recycling regulations is part of your consideration. It’s also important to be aware that companies are now legally obliged to safely dispose of potentially sensitive information in accordance with current security laws and the Data Protection Act of 1998. Be sure only to use a computer recycling company that operates in accordance with, and preferably exceeds all government guidelines such as the WEEE Directive and the Data Protection Act.