All You Need to Know – How to Dispose of E-Waste Properly

used batteries thrown away as electronic waste

Electronic Waste Facts estimate that worldwide, we generate around 40 million metric tonnes of electronic waste annually. In comparison, that’s like throwing 800 laptop computers every second. E-waste comprises 70% of the worldwide toxic waste, of which only 12.5% is recycled.

The volume of e-waste produced in Singapore has been increasing rapidly in recent years. Singapore produces 60,000 metric tonnes of e-waste annually, and only 6% of it gets recycled. The other 94%—a whopping 56,400 tonnes—ends up in our landfill. With such a large volume of e-waste being produced, it is important to ensure that it is disposed of properly to minimise its environmental impact. 

The Importance of Disposing E-Waste Properly

The importance of disposing of e-waste properly cannot be overstated. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a growing problem in our world. As electronic devices become increasingly popular, more and more electronic waste is generated yearly. The chemicals in e-waste are harmful to the environment and can get into the soil and water. This can cause serious environmental problems. E-waste makes up a large part of what we throw away, and most of it is sent to landfills or incinerators, where it is burned, releasing toxins into the air and causing damage to the environment and our health.

Day by day, we know that consumers will buy new electronic devices. Therefore, it’s important to deliver the messages in order to properly dispose of e-waste. E-waste should not be discarded in the general waste bin due to hazardous materials. 

What is E-Waste?

When a piece of electronic equipment ends its meaningful life, it is discarded and added to the growing mountain of e-waste. E-waste, or electronic waste, refers to any unwanted or broken electronic device or appliance. E-waste can include everything from old laptops and smartphones to TVs and printers. Any unwanted or outdated electrical machinery or electronic equipment is known as “electronic waste.” E-waste refers to unwanted electronics processed for recycling, reuse, resale, or recovery. 

There is no doubt that e-waste is growing as a problem around the world. The rapid advancement of technology has resulted in a high level of electronic waste being produced.

 Every year, millions of tonnes of e-waste are produced, and much of it ends up in landfills, where it can cause pollution. E-waste produces toxins that slowly seep into the surrounding environment, making them toxic and hazardous for all living things.

Benefits of Recycling E-Waste

concept art of recycling e-waste

It’s not hard to see why electronic recycling waste makes sense. In today’s environment, nearly everyone has at least one technological device. Creating new technological products takes time, money, and other resources.

As technology improves and newer models become more popular, the older models become less useful and will end up in landfills; this adds to the growing problem of electronic waste. Recycling is a good business practice because doing so helps keep harmful substances out of the environment. Instead of wasting time and money looking for scarce natural resources, why not recycle old electronics?

When e-waste is recycled in Singapore, many benefits can be gained.

Conserving Natural Resources

By recycling there is no doubt that one of the main benefits of this technology is that it helps us conserve our natural resources. Getting materials from old electronics and recycling them reduces the need to dig them out of the ground. This saves natural resources all over the world. Depending on how we recycle electronic waste, we can get things like metals, plastic, and other materials that can be used to make new things.

Save The Environment

person in a forest holding a tree with soil

Recycling electronic waste can also help cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. When new electronics are mined and made, pollution is produced. You can reduce pollution by recycling e-waste and reusing materials instead of making new ones.

Creating Jobs For The Population

wooden men representing job creation

Some jobs can be created through the recycling of e-waste. A significant amount of labour is involved in collecting, transporting, and recycling electronic waste. Through these opportunities, many unemployed individuals will be able to find employment. It has the potential to open up fresh resource and component markets. In addition to saving money, recycling electronic waste also helps reduce the money spent transporting raw materials and the labour expenses associated with processing them.

Harmful Consequences of E-Waste

worker looking at a huge landfill

E-waste is a huge problem as it is non-biodegradable and may release toxins into the air when incinerated. E-waste also contains harmful chemicals that can leach into the ground and contaminate our soil and water. E-waste also takes up valuable space in our landfills. That’s why it’s important to know how to dispose of e-waste properly. The chemical substances harmful to human health include lead, mercury, nickel, brominated flame retardants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs). Therefore, all the chemicals that appear in the e-waste damage internal organs such as the kidneys and the circulatory and nervous systems.

Air Pollution

The harmful effect of imbalance in the air will cause the greenhouse gas effect from hydrocarbons that can lead to global warming. E-waste can negatively impact soil texture because of the ash from burning electronics and fine dust from shredding.

Water Pollution

The more E-waste and metals disposed of in a landfill, the more these traces of toxic materials end up in groundwater. In addition, it affects marine life severely; by looking at the impact of e-waste on marine life, two-thirds of aquatic life is considered endangered because of mishandled waste chemicals and other materials. Then, the toxins of e-waste imbalance the planetary ecosystem and simultaneously make the animals suffer in their natural habitats. 

E-waste can be very harmful to human health and the environment if disposed of improperly. 

Land Pollution

E-waste containing heavy metals and flame retardants can leak directly into the ground, polluting underground water and plants growing nearby, whether e-waste is improperly disposed of in ordinary dumpsters or sites where it is thrown illegally. Polluted soil reduces crop yields and puts people at risk of sickness from ingesting toxic metals.

Contamination levels in the soil are affected by several variables, including but not limited to temp, soil composition, pH levels, and overall soil conditions. Long-term exposure to these contaminants in the soil can have negative effects on plant life and soil microbes. Think about the people who rely on nature and the wildlife that uses sources of food for survival. There is a risk that they will be exposed to dangerous substances.

It’s also worth noting that companies must dig up additional raw materials to make new gadgets when electronic garbage is dumped. Electronic devices, like mobile phones, often have trace amounts of precious metals like gold, silver, and palladium, among other essential materials. As more and more people want electronic gadgets, it’s getting harder and harder to mine the materials needed to make them.

The Different Methods of Disposing E-Waste

electronic waste in a landfill

There are different methods of disposing of e-waste, but the most common is recycling. Upstream controls can also be put in place to cut down on the amount of e-waste that is made.

E-Waste Recycling

Recycling electronic waste means taking materials from electronic devices and parts that are no longer useful and putting them back into new ones.

Recycling e-waste helps to recover valuable materials, such as metals and plastics, that can be used to make new products. It also reduces the amount of e-waste that ends up in our landfills. Many electronic components rely on expensive raw materials to function. Recycling old equipment saves energy. It also means that fewer natural resources are used to produce new equipment.

E-waste recycling stations can be found in town centres, shopping malls, government buildings, resident committee centres, community centres, supermarkets, and retail outlets. E-waste recycling bins are classified into three types: 3-in-1 bins, batteries and bulbs bins, and batteries bins.

Are you aware that almost all of the materials in your phone can be recovered and recycled to generate energy or produce new products such as plastics, electronics, or even jewellery?

Approximately 20% of all e-waste generated today is recycled properly. Zebedee also offers e-waste disposal bin services and data centre decommissioning. Aside from that, NEA said that more than 300 e-waste recycling bins would be deployed across Singapore in July 2021. Through the e-waste bin, you will be rewarded with points that can be redeemed for a shopping voucher.

What is the best way to recycle e-waste in Singapore? To help you out, here are some tips:

Before You Recycle Your E-Waste

electronic waste in a carton box

If you would like to dispose of old electronics in the right way, there are a few other options you can consider. Make sure that all of the information on your device has been erased before you throw it away. If you do this, someone who finds your device won’t be able to get to your personal information. Donating your old device to a charity or an organisation that can use it is always a good idea.

Repair, Reuse or Donate Your E-Waste

Find out if your e-waste can be repaired or reused. If so, there is no need to recycle it—donate it to a charity or sell it online. If you have electronics that you don’t use or that are broken, you can donate them to groups like SGBono and Engineering Good by dropping them off at their locations or getting in touch with them through their websites. E-waste also contains valuable materials like gold and copper that can be recycled.

Recycle Your E-Waste

blue recycling bin

If your e-waste cannot be repaired or reused, the next best option is to recycle it. In Singapore, there are a lot of places where you can safely and effectively recycle your old electronics. Once you’ve found a good company to recycle your e-waste, you can drop it off at their facility. They will then recycle it using the latest technology and equipment. Most of these places are in industrial parks, and many will also pick up big items. 

You can also bring your old electronics to one of Singapore’s 11 e-waste collection points. These collection points are run by the National Environment Agency (NEA). You can find the locations of these collection points on the NEA website.

Upstream Controls

Upstream controls can be taken to reduce the amount of e-waste produced in the first place. This can be done when corporations design products that have a longer lifespan or that can be easily repaired or upgraded.

Implementing upstream controls can be challenging, but it is essential for reducing the environmental impact of electronic waste, i.e., reducing the need to mine for virgin resources and reducing the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfills.

Another option to implement the upstream controls to dispose of the e-waste is the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), which will be able to lower the number of heavy metals that enter our waste stream and raise the possibility that incinerator ash can be recycled. 

Additionally, NEA has encouraged businesses to participate voluntarily in e-waste recycling. So, the results of the business collaborations and partnerships show that e-waste management involves innovation and control.

Conclusion

an assortment of electronic waste

If you have electronic devices or components you need to dispose of, make sure to do so responsibly. Electronic waste should be recycled at a certified facility because it takes careful sorting of the different parts before they can be recycled and used to make new materials. This should be done in a clean, safe place that is good for both the environment and the people involved. If you are on the team that makes decisions for a company, you might want to implement upstream controls to reduce your electronic footprint.

Not only does recycling or upstreaming your e-waste protect human and environmental health, but it also helps to conserve our earth’s precious natural resources for our future. It’s great that you recycle your electronic garbage; you’re doing your part to alleviate global pollution. The second step is to educate those around you who may not yet be aware of the dangers that e-waste poses, such as your loved ones, friends, neighbours, and coworkers.

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