The United Nations is warning that electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is building up so quickly in developing nations that, unless action is taken, it could soon start causing major environmental damage and public health problems.
Old computers, printers, cell phones, music players, televisions and common household appliances, such as refrigerators, are being discarded at an increasingly rapid pace, yet in most developing countries that vast majority of these items are simply discarded into landfills.
According to the UN report, India could see a 500 percent rise in the number of old computers dumped by 2020, while China and South Africa could see a 400 percent increase in old computers dumped, compared to 2007 levels.
Although some countries are doing a good job of extracting the precious metals used in the circuit boards of computers and other consumer electronics, there is a question as to the process that is used, and how harmful it is for the environment: For example, in some areas of China they simply burn the circuit boards in open incinerators in order to melt them down and extract the precious metals, a practice which in turn causes serious air pollution.
For more information, check out these reports here and here.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard