E-waste

Damo

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A fairly depressing topic, I admit that it hasn't really crossed my mind with what happens to old technology once it's thrown away until recently even though I'm surrounded by the stuff everyday.

A lot of old tech ends up in landfill and as you're probably aware plastics and metals don't really degrade, at least when we throw away food it's going to rot and breakdown but throwing away a mobile phone is going to remain in the earth for a very long time not to mention the toxic chemicals it would release overtime.

I've thrown away batteries away before in general waste bins and haven't really thought about the consequences of doing so. The point of this thread is to hopefully raise awareness of e-waste, search for local recycle centres and dispose the stuff properly.

Here's a video I've found to give you a brief overview, here's more information from ifixit.

 

rogerjolly

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Hi Damo,

Some years ago I spent two months on an “underdeveloped” Caribbean island as a volunteer with an organisation that attracted people with the opportunity to help save the planet. When the time arrived for a group of us to leave, the young resident volunteer scientist gave each of us a bag of used batteries from cameras and torches etc. that she had collected from all over the island. She also gave a little talk about how grossly unfair it was for visitors from the developed world to bring such items to the island with no thought as to their disposal. She asked us to take them back to the UK to be disposed of in a country responsible for their production in the first place.

The sad ending to the tale is that one of the group just couldn’t be bothered with carrying the weight of them and dumped them at the first bin she could find when we got to the tiny airport.

Roger.
 

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Old electronics are certainly a big problem that I can't see decreasing in the years to come. :/ Modern, developed society seems less concerned with 'if it's broken, fix it,' and more concerned with replacing everything with a better/latest model. E-waste also generates quite a bit of business. Part of my geography studies have briefly covered the recycling trade going on in China where folk scavenge any useful components of discarded electronics to generate a profit.
That aside however, it goes without saying that as a species we are incredibly, astronomically wasteful.
 

Damo

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Hi Damo,

Some years ago I spent two months on an “underdeveloped” Caribbean island as a volunteer with an organisation that attracted people with the opportunity to help save the planet. When the time arrived for a group of us to leave, the young resident volunteer scientist gave each of us a bag of used batteries from cameras and torches etc. that she had collected from all over the island. She also gave a little talk about how grossly unfair it was for visitors from the developed world to bring such items to the island with no thought as to their disposal. She asked us to take them back to the UK to be disposed of in a country responsible for their production in the first place.

The sad ending to the tale is that one of the group just couldn’t be bothered with carrying the weight of them and dumped them at the first bin she could find when we got to the tiny airport.

Roger.
Wow. So much for volunteering to save the planet, sad ending indeed. I think we ought to have some kind of stricter rules in regards of disposing recyclable rubbish, there isn't really anything enforcing recycling... Anyone can throw anything into a bin.

Modern, developed society seems less concerned with 'if it's broken, fix it,' and more concerned with replacing everything with a better/latest model.
I think more manufactures need to offer some kind of repair service, there's probably others but the only manufacture I know is Apple that offer battery, screen and other replacements or repair. The average user is probably going to throw away their phone once the battery becomes bad, at least with manufactures like Apple they could get them replaced which would mean one less phone in landfill.
 
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Sally

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Instead of enforcing more laws on the consumer how about enforcing more laws on the industries that produce this stuff. I'm fed up with being told that recycling is my responsibility, although I'm old enough to remember when it was normal to take glass bottles back for the pennies and sixpences, milk bottles, greaseproof paper, cakes in cardboard boxes, shopping bags, etc. Life before plastic was fine. Bernard Matthews (sign of the cross) produces plastic packaging for their meat that has 'not recyclable' printed on the packet. Whether this means that it will decompose or just stay there forever is not made clear.

The law has to be enforced against the producers of the stuff, not at the poor people who have it forced on them, to deal with.
 

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Veganite

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Where the problem lies is when you can replace an entire printer cheaper than buying new cartridges. There's so many devices like this nowadays.

Whatever became of the TV repairman? Again, it's just easier to throw something away and replace it, rather than repair it.

I do agree that it has to change at the source, inevitably. While crafting laws to help reduce plastics helps, everyone needs to take responsibility, especially at the source.

I'm partly guilty here, as I just replaced a 50" TV/monitor. There's no question repairing my old one would've cost more than a new one, sadly. How does someone avoid this though? Without a monitor, none of us would be here.
 

Consistency

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Where the problem lies is when you can replace an entire printer cheaper than buying new cartridges. There's so many devices like this nowadays.

Whatever became of the TV repairman? Again, it's just easier to throw something away and replace it, rather than repair it.

I do agree that it has to change at the source, inevitably. While crafting laws to help reduce plastics helps, everyone needs to take responsibility, especially at the source.

I'm partly guilty here, as I just replaced a 50" TV/monitor. There's no question repairing my old one would've cost more than a new one, sadly. How does someone avoid this though? Without a monitor, none of us would be here.
I hear you. My father was a TV repair man / electrician before he retired. He told me that today's monitors aren't like old tube TV's in which parts were bigger and easily serviceable and that modern monitors have a lot of small diodes and they can't be replaced when they burn out.

A way to avoid this would be to buy a quality projector instead of a monitor. Basically a projector needs the bulb replaced after so many hours and the projector isn't detrimental to our eyes like staring into a monitor(light bulb). A projector is obviously smaller and therefore less waste. Same applies when buying a new PC... Mini PC instead of regular PC.
 
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Impacts of E-waste on the environment
E-waste, or electronic waste, is waste from all sorts of electronics ranging from computers and mobile phones to household electronics such as food processors, pressure, cookers etc. The effects of improper disposal of this E-waste on the environment are little known; these impacts nonetheless pose very real threats and dangers to the global environment at large. Threats posed by E-waste to the environment. Improper disposal of these electronic wastes affects the soil, air, and water components of the environment.
Effects on air
One of the most common effects of E-waste on air is through air pollution. For example, a British documentary about Lagos and its inhabitants, called Welcome to Lagos, shows a number of landfill scavengers who go through numerous landfills in Lagos looking for improperly disposed of electronics which includes wires, blenders, etc., to make some income from the recycling of these wastes. These men were shown to burn wires to get the copper (a very valuable commodity) in them by open-air burning which can release hydrocarbons into the air.
Effects on water
When electronics containing heavy metals such as lead, barium, mercury, lithium (found in mobile phone and computer batteries), etc., are improperly disposed of, these heavy metals leach through the soil to reach groundwater channels which eventually run to the surface as streams or small ponds of water. Local communities often depend on these bodies of water and the groundwater. Apart from these chemicals resulting in the death of some of the plants and animals that exist in the water, intake of the contaminated water by humans and land animals results in lead poisoning. Some of these heavy metals are also carcinogenic.
Effects on soil
In this way, toxic heavy metals and chemicals from e-waste enter the “soil-crop-food pathway,” one of the most significant routes for heavy metals’ exposure to humans. These chemicals are not biodegradable—they persist in the environment for long periods of time, increasing the risk of exposure.

The answer is there are a number of ways to do this, they include:
1. Checking with the local government on laws and regulations guiding ethical and safe disposal of these waste. As a result of the increasing threat that e-waste poses to the environment, some communities have begun to undergo civic programs in which inhabitants of such communities take unwanted electronics to designated drop-off locations (this takes after the idea used in plastic bottle collections to tackle pollution caused by plastic bottles).
2. With the donation of electronics, some of the e-waste disposed of can actually be reused, and by doing this, one can reduce pollution caused by e-waste and also give access to people who would not otherwise have access to these devices.
3. With the use of a certified E-waste recycler, one can find an ethical and safe recycler certified through the Basel Action Network (BAN), a non-profit organization. Regionally,
With all the above said, we all can be responsible citizens by being mindful of the dangers posed by E-waste to the environment and do as much as we can to protect our environment because ultimately e-waste does not just affect the environment, it ultimately affects us humans too/ as well
 

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...the only manufacture I know is Apple that offer battery, screen and other replacements or repair. The average user is probably going to throw away their phone once the battery becomes bad, at least with manufactures like Apple they could get them replaced which would mean one less phone in landfill.
Apple is one of THE WORST companies when it comes to repairs. They make it virtually impossible for independent repair people to repair their products by refusing to sell their parts, and they will charge you to replace new screens or the entire device when they could simply re-connect wires. It happens ALL the time. If you want to hear some real eye-opening stories, look up Louis Rossman on YT. He is an independent Apple Repair Technician in NY and does not hide his feelings or the facts about Apple products because of the way they do business. I have not nor will I ever buy an Apple product. Ever.

If you want to watch something really depressing, there is this video:
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html

You need to have the current version of Flash installed to watch it. Lots of the stuff we think we are recycling responsibly is not being handled properly but instead being shipped off to places like Ghana and dumped into a dumping ground, where people are rummaging through it, stealing data on it, and re-selling it.

I had to watch this video for a computer science class I took. I work in IT, and this issue is really difficult for me. Phone mfrs basically design their products to be obsolete in 2 yrs or less. It's total racket and it infuriates me to no end. :(
 

Damo

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Apple is one of THE WORST companies when it comes to repairs.
I've watched a few of Louis's videos on YouTube and I completely agree that not allowing their parts to be purchased separately is awful and so is the seizing of imported parts, however I think Apple do a lot in terms of actually giving the option to repair and the replacement of batteries unlike other manufactures that don't publicly advertise the cost of battery replacements or repairs.

Also repair costs for phones comparing Samsung and Apple aren't that different from each other, we can only compare screen replacement costs using links below and yes you could argue that you could buy the parts and repair yourself but I'm going to assume that the majority of people out there don't want to.

https://www.samsung.com/uk/support/repair/mobile-device/

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/iphone/repair/service/pricing

Don't mistake me for an Apple fanboy I'm simply stating that Apple gets a lot of heat purely because they're a huge company and there's so many smaller companies out there that are either worse or the same.

Phone mfrs basically design their products to be obsolete in 2 yrs or less. It's total racket and it infuriates me to no end. :(
My personal view on this is that once a phone no longer receives updates from the manufacture the phone becomes obsolete, while I don't like Apple computers I do appreciate that my iPhone 6S Plus released in 2015 is still running the latest operating system from Apple 4 years later and I imagine the phone will continue supporting their latest operating system for a few more years. I really wish android manufactures would do the same Apple phones are expensive!