Why e-waste could be your IT team's next big issue

14 April 2016
CreativeCommons-PhotoMikeKnell
In Fast Business Darren Baguley writes, "The advances technology has made in the last few decades have changed our world incredibly, but the built-in obsolescence of our gadgets has created a massive problem – e-waste" – and scientists are now focused on solutions.

Australia is one of the biggest producers of e-waste on a per capita basis.

We have a seemingly endless appetite for the latest and greatest laptop, tablet, flat screen TV, smartphone and other pieces of consumer electronics, but have long lagged behind Europe and some American states in terms of enforced take-back or recycling policies.

A mountain of e-waste

To quantify the issue, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says that in 2007–08, 15.7 million computers reached their end of life and less than 10 per cent of those were recycled. By 2027–28, 44 million units, or 181,000 tonnes, of computers and televisions will have come to the end of their usable life. Electronic waste is responsible for 70 per cent of the toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium and mercury found in landfill.

These toxic and environmentally damaging substances are highly pervasive, with many electronic switches and appliances containing mercury. Additionally, circuit boards contain the toxic substance selenium and magnets contain cobalt. These substances can seep into groundwater, contaminate the soil and enter the food chain.

Read the full story in Fast Business
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Photo by Mike Knell, Creative Commons