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E-Waste Management: Reducing the Toxicity Report

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2021

With recent technological developments, people have been very quick to learn to integrate the newly developed products into their daily and professional routine, yet the management of produced e-waste seems to have been a contentious issue. According to the recent report on the subject matter, the levels of e-waste have grown exponentially over the past few years to reach record levels (Matternicht & Morris, 2016). In the U.S. alone, the total mass of e-waste peaked at 262.4 million tons in 2015, as the Environmental Protection Agency (2016) announced. Thus, the topic of this essay is the assessment of the current problem of e-waste management, the current levels of competence about e-waste management, and the methods of addressing the problem at hand. There are several sustainability issues surrounding the topic of e-waste, the key ones being the toxicity of e-waste and the subsequent threat to most ecosystems. Overall, the topic presents a problem for the global community and the global ecosystem. Thus, the focus of the report is on the strategies that can be used to manage e-waste successfully and contain its harmful effects. By making the issue of e-waste management public with the help of social media and providing opportunities for recovering, recycling, and monitoring e-waste, one will reduce the environmental threat.

One of the issues caused by challenges in e-waste management is the lack of compliance with the proposed standards for recycling among general audiences. The specified concern represents an evident issue that has to be handled at the statewide level since the inability to follow the established rules by citizens implies that e-waste will continue to pollute the environment and affect the ecosystem. Despite the attempts to introduce homogenous standards for managing e-waste and disposing of it, the majority of Australian citizens continue to dispose of e-waste, specifically, electronic devices and batteries, using traditional waste bins and garbage cans (Matternicht & Morris, 2016). The lack of awareness about the methods of managing e-waste and the steps that one has to take in order to recycle it properly is another factor that adds to the aggravation of the e-waste issue. Specifically, people tend to fail to locate the places where they can dispose of e-waste, which leads to the enhancement of the e-waste management crisis.

The solution to the described issue may depend on the culture-specific beliefs and perceptions of the target demographic, yet it will require enhanced communication with citizens in either way. The specified task will require utilizing social media and offering people access to the resources that will allow them to build environmental competence. While the issue at hand has been affecting Australia specifically, it can also be identified as global concern since very few states have established well-developed systems for managing waste and built the required levels of awareness among its citizens (Matternicht & Morris, 2016). Some of the consequences of the descried concern include the release of toxic elements into the environment, specifically, through groundwater into the soil and water, causing irreversible damage to plants, animals, and, eventually, people (Shevchenko, Laitala, & Danko, 2019; Ferronato & Torretta, 2019). Thus, while starting locally, incompliance with e-waste management strategies quickly reaches the levels of a global concern and may cause a massive crisis, which is why it is critical to respond to it immediately by using social media as the fastest way of embracing as many local communities as possible.

Another problem associated with improper e-waste management is caused by the rise in consumerism levels. Due to a clever marketing framework and the misplaced values of a range of consumerism-driven citizens, millions of people rush to purchase a new device once it is released (“High-tech consumerism, a global catastrophe happening on our watch,” 2015). The described behavior causes people to dispose of the devices that have grown out of fashion very frequently, which increases the amount of e-waste produced globally. As a result, the threat to the environment increases at an exponential level, as the recent report proves: “In the last decade or so, e-waste became the fastest-growing part of all the stuff we throw away” (“High-tech consumerism, a global catastrophe happening on our watch,” 2015, para. 8). Notably, the lack of awareness about the rules for proper disposal of e-waste also has its effects on the described issue, aggravating the problem and leading to even greater adverse effects.

The issue outlined above will require encouraging people to reduce their consumerist urges and increasing accessibility to e-waste recycling facilities. Currently, people tend to use traditional waste management tools for e-waste, which causes the problem to grow out of proportions. Due to the ubiquitous nature of toxins, every possible area is bound to be affected, from groundwater to land and plants to the ocean: “And this stuff is full of toxins that if not properly removed, re-used or recycled, can poison the land, air and water, as well as the bodies of workers exposed to the chemical contents” (“In the last decade or so, e-waste became the fastest-growing part of all the stuff we throw away,” 2015. Para. 8).

Therefore, the described issue can be seen as a combination of the effects of the previous concern regarding the lack of awareness and the problem of consumerism becoming a global trend. The specified topic in the environmentalism dialogue indicates that new methods of building awareness by offering opportunities for e-waste management and increasing awareness should be designed (Prata et al., 2019). The effects that the regular purchase of new devices and the quick disposal of old ones has on the environment need to be emphasized and explained thoroughly. Additionally, citizens need to be provided with instructions about the location of e-waste container bins and explained the importance of proper e-waste management. Moreover, tools for monitoring the levels of compliance with the newly provided guidelines have to be established.

The problem of e-waste management has affected the global community to a large extent and continues to have its devastating impact on the global environment and the well-being of citizens. Therefore, online media has to be used to build awareness and encourage people to use facilities for we-waste management, as well as reduce the levels of digital devices consumption due to the hugely adverse impact that it produces on the global community. The provision of e-waste management facilities can be seen as a local solution to the problem, whereas the use of social media for shedding light on the issue is the method of bringing the e-waste issue to the global agenda (Chaudhary & Vrat, 2018). Unless one raises the concern of the lack of awareness, tools for e-waste management, and understanding of the damage done by consumerism, increase in e-waste will cause rapid contamination of groundwater, soil, and water, leading to mass diseases. Herein lies the link to sustainability, which suggests that resources have to be used with caution in order to reduce pollution and maintain the global ecosystem, as well as public health, at a high level.

References

Chaudhary, K., & Vrat, P. (2018). Case study analysis of e-waste management systems in Germany, Switzerland, Japan and India. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 25(9), 3519–3540. Web.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2016). Web.

Ferronato, N., & Torretta, V. (2019). Waste mismanagement in developing countries: A review of global issues. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(6), 1060. Web.

Matternicht, G. & Morris, A. (2016). The Conversation. Web.

Maxwell, R. (2015). The Conversation. Web.

Prata, J. C., Silva, A. L. P., Costa, J. P. D., Mouneyrac, C., Walker, T. R., Duarte, A. C., & Rocha-Santos, T. (2019). Solutions and integrated strategies for the control and mitigation of plastic and microplastic pollution. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(13), 2411. Web.

Shevchenko, T., Laitala, K., & Danko, Y. (2019). Understanding consumer e-waste recycling behavior: Introducing a new economic incentive to increase the collection rates. Sustainability, 11(9), 2656. Web.

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