Understanding the Hidden Risks and Environmental Impact of E-Waste

Posted by The Team at CXtec on Oct 7, 2022 8:08:13 AM

E-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream across the globe. According to WHO, the amount of electronic waste produced...

E-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream across the globe. According to WHO, the amount of electronic waste produced worldwide in 2022 was predicted to be 63 million tons annually. This number is further expected to witness a 37% jump annually through 2030.

In fact, the UN predicts global e-waste to reach 74 Mt by 2030. It's double the amount of e-waste produced in 16 years. The increase in global e-waste can be attributed to varied reasons. These include:

  • increased urbanization
  • shorter life spans of products and hardware
  • premature and ecologically irresponsible asset disposal
  • regular electronic hardware manufacturing
  • constant device upgrades
  • higher demands and consumption of electric equipment

As a result, there's a pressing need to adopt sustainable processes that produce less waste. Enterprises across the globe are shifting their focus toward green initiatives, especially when managing IT infrastructure. This will help:

  • answer society’s call
  • mitigate e-waste impact on the environment
  • reduce the adverse e-waste effects on human health
  • maintain ecological balance
  • reduce the global carbon footprint
  • minimize harmful greenhouse gasses and pollution

We will look at how companies can tackle the e-waste issue. But, let's first understand the dangers associated with e-waste.

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E-waste and its Hidden Risks

E-waste refers to electronic products and components that are obsolete, unwanted, or at the end of their useful life. These include IT hardware, fax machines, mobile phones, etc. It poses the following risks:

1. Severe Environmental Pollution

One of the major dangers associated with e-waste is pollution. This can be owed to the unnecessary disposal of hardware, especially in IT companies. Enterprises often dispose of hardware that has reached its end of life and upgrade to new hardware. But, a majority of such hardware is often irresponsibly dumped in landfills. Electronic products and hardware contain many heavy metals such as mercury, lithium, lead, etc. They also contain polybrominated flame retardants. When hardware is dumped in landfills, it releases these toxic chemicals. These pollutants seep into the soil, and the underlying groundwater, contaminating the water bodies and nearby crops. Furthermore, shredding or incinerating electronic devices release toxic dust particles and hydrocarbons. This causes air pollution, impacting the surrounding regions' animal species and biodiversity.

2. Human Health Risks

Another significant danger associated with improper management of e-waste is its devastating impact on human health and lives. E-waste significantly harms workers involved in the informal waste industry. According to WHO, about 12.9 million women and over 18 million children work in the informal waste sector. This exposes them to a toxic environment and puts them at severe health risks.

As mentioned earlier, e-waste contains several hazardous chemicals and is non-biodegradable. Dangerous irritants such as selenium, barium, mercury, etc., released from e-waste accumulate over time in the soil, air, and water. This further becomes the source of many irreversible diseases. Most of these diseases impact the brain, kidneys, liver, heart, etc. For example, mercury affects the nervous system and can be fatal.

Similarly, Cadmium found in batteries can cause cancer. It can also damage reproductive health, leading to congenital disabilities and miscarriages. Hence, companies must practice responsible asset disposition to boost sustainability. This will help avoid the issues associated with an increase in e-waste.

How CXtec Helps Companies Battle the Growing E-Waste Issue

There are several steps that companies can take to reduce the amount of e-waste produced. These include:

  • recycling outdated hardware
  • responsible asset disposal
  • hardware lifecycle management practices
  • investing in refurbished hardware

At CXtec, we have been in the hardware refurbishment and recycling industry for more than 40 years. We provide solutions that empower businesses to make sustainable decisions. For instance, we have refurbished and repurposed 4.8+ Million IT hardware units. This reduced landfill waste by over 16.8 Million lbs and greenhouse gasses by over 23.4 Million lbs. Similarly, we reduced environmental toxicity by 3.9+ Million lbs through responsible recycling and diverted 12,137 lbs of toxic metals from landfills.

1. Refurbishment

Our exclusive brand of high-performing pre-owned IT equipment, equal2new®, helps companies maximize the value of hardware investment and reduce e-waste. Our equal2new brand offers:

  • a vast inventory of brands in stock and ready-to-ship products
  • 40% to 90% off manufacturer's list prices
  • impressive lifetime warranty with advance replacement
  • 99.51% reliability rating
  • thoroughly tested, certified, and sustainable hardware
  • customized solutions as per needs
  • dedicated account managers for quick support

2. Hardware End-of-Life Management (HELM)

We also provide Hardware End-of-Life Management (HELM) services to decommission and securely dispose of retired IT assets. Our ITAD services ensure 100% data erasure and adhere to the highest environmental standards. We also provide a highly compliant R2:2013 certified hardware recycling solution.

Contact us to learn to minimize the demand for new hardware and tackle e-waste.