e-Waste -electronic waste- is end of life electronic equipment, which has to been disposed of.
In the western world, we generally dispose of them via the regular waste processes which have been set up for this.
In developing countries there are nearly any professional e-Waste dismantling processes in place. Also local legislation concerning e-Waste is not in place. Therefor all e-Waste is processed through the informal channel, which causes problems for man and nature.
e-Waste in developing countries causes several serious problems, mainly due to unprofessional, dangerous, and incomplete disassembly processes. Some people attempt to earn money through e-waste by disassembling it and locally selling the metal and copper. The unprofessional disassembling process which is commonly used is a harmful and dangerous process for human health and for the health of the ecosystem.
Plastics, rubber, and print boards are set on fire in order to obtain and sell the leftover metals. These dangerous processes cause massive air pollution and make people (often children 6 years and older) breathe in harmful smoke.
Hazardous leftover materials which cannot be sold, such as batteries, capacitors, and CRT glass, are discarded in nature.
The amount of electronics that organizations and people use is growing. At the same time, the life of equipment is getting shorter. This is creating a worldwide explosion of electronic waste. We throw away an estimated 40,000,000 tons of electronic equipment worldwide each year.
The dump of electronic waste not only creates pollution, it also leads to the loss of valuable materials. In developing countries, often only metal, copper and aluminum are recycled. Other materials, including precious metals like gold, silver, and palladium, are lost. The mining of new gold, silver, and palladium is very harmful in terms of energy consumption and pollution. By recovering these metals from e-waste, less mining will be necessary.