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What Are The Issues Of Electronic Waste Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 3358 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In every year of human life, seven years of technological advancements go by. Even though this has slowed recently, every day manufacturers are coming out with new electronic equipment that makes the old stuff look only slightly better than a Commodore 64. Electronic waste is an often unheeded environmental problem that is rapidly increasing in with our lust for new technology since manufacturing of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is one of the fastest growing activities in the globe. The reasons behind the increase of both consumption and the production of EEE are rapid growth of economy, urbanization and an increasing demand for consumer goods. The new electronic devices and appliances have fulfilled every aspect of daily activities, providing society with more comfort, health and security and gaining and exchanging easy information. The knowledgeable society however is creating its own toxic footprints.

The need for more and more electronics has become vital in our lives in order to conduct business activities. However the way these products are disposed is a great concern for the public worldwide. Most of the electronics items are with high level of toxicity.

Since this essay is base on e-waste and in first part of essay discuss more about the types of e-waste. There are mainly three types of e-waste; large Household devices, ICT and Consumer Equipment. For instance, refrigerator and washing machine refer to household appliances, computer, laptop and phone depict information and communication, and finally DVD players and TV represent consumer equipment. In the next part of the essay mainly base on do research about the impact of e-waste and discuss more about it, especially environmental and health impacts. Typically e-waste creates a large number of compounds, which contain high toxic that have adverse impact on environment and human health, because of improper disposal and recycling process. Most of researches are going to do through internet.

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Furthermore in this document will discuss about the issues of e-waste. Under this part I will be discussing on ethical, legal, professional, and social issues arising because of e-waste. Even in this part I will be dealing with theory, like kerns and consequence theory and I will be dealing with what they said and how it is related to these topics. Finally, in this document I will be discussing about how to overcome those problems arising from e-waste. Moreover, in this part, I’m going to focus on the steps that could be taken on national and international level. In addition, I will be focusing on the roles that we can play individually to minimize the issues rising from e-waste.

Category of E-waste

E-waste is the term used to describe became old, end of life electronic devices such as TVs, computers, laptops, DVD players, and mobile phones etc., which have been disposed by their original users.

Electronic waste or e-waste is categorized mainly into three categories, which include large Household devices, ICT and Consumer Equipment. For instance Refrigerator and washing machine symbolize household appliances; computer, laptop and phone symbolize information and telecommunication, while DVD players and TV symbolize consumer equipment.

According to UN experts in a landmark report released on 22 February 2010 by UNEP shows the situation of the countries like China, India, Colombia, and Kenya, which categorizes the e-waste causing issues of the countries. (Bali, 22 February 2010).

Figure 1: Types of E-waste in

When considering each of the above factors of e-waste items, they have been categorized into 26 common components found in each of them. These components are: Metal, Motor or compressor, Insulation, Magnetron, Circuit board, Cooling, LCD, Plastic, Rubber, Wiring or electrical, External Electric cables, Concrete, Refractory Ceramic Fibers, Heating Element, Thermostat, Radioactive substances and electrolyte capacitors (over L/D 25 mm), Transformer, Fluorescent lamp. Textile, CFC/HCFC/HFC/HC, Incandescent lamp, Brominated flamed retardant (BFR)-containing plastic, Batteries and Glass.

Configuration of E-waste is different from products of different categories. There are more than 1000 different materials, which are categorized under the sections; hazardous and non-hazardous. Generally, they contain ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Non-ferrous metal contains metals like coppers, aluminum and precious metals: for instance silver, gold platinum, etc. But elements like lead, mercury, arsenic, selenium, cadmium and hexavalent chromium come under hazardous waste.

Hazards of E-waste

When considering the hazards of e-waste, it seems to be a big issue. We should think about recycling e-waste, because finally the dumped hazardous materials can be an eyesore, which include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, selenium, and hexavalent chromium. As I have mentioned before, these types of toxics are not only harmful for the environment but also for our bodies.

Environmental and health hazards


This is a dangerous toxic, which effects different mechanisms of our body causing to expose our body to the diseases and damage body organism, such as central (organic effectives syndrome) and peripheral nervous systems (motor neuropathy), hemopoietic system (anemia), the genitourinary system (capable of causing damage to all parts nephron) and the reproductive systems (male and female). (Dr. D.Y, august 2008). These types of toxics are highly found in computer and TV. Usually 15″ a cathode ray tube contains 1.5 pounds of lead, but other CRTs have up to 8 pounds of lead.


Likewise mercury also one of the dangerous toxics which is produced from e-waste, and which causes damage to genitourinary system (tubular dysfunction), nervous systems and even it affects the fetus. The inorganic mercury spreads by water. It is changed into methylated mercury, which bio-accumulates in living organisms. Through food chain, it goes to human body, especially by fish. (Dr. D.Y, august 2008).


Another type of toxic that produces by e-waste is cadmium, which contains long-term cumulative poison. This toxic compound in the human body particularly in kidneys and evidence show that there is role of cadmium in carcinogenicity. Even this toxic is highly present in computer and TV. (Dr. D.Y, August 2008).

Impact of E-waste

E-wastes are made of mass components, which contain dangerous chemicals that have adverse impact on environment and human health, if not disposed properly. Typically, these hazards rise due to use of improper disposal and recycling processes. When considering the impact of waste from the white and brown goods is less toxic compared with grey goods. Today, most common and popular machine among the people, especially among youngsters, is computer, which contains highly toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, sinc, plastic, glass, ferrous metal, aluminum and etc.

One of the main impacts of the e-waste is air pollution associated to (HT) incineration; hence it leads to respiratory tract infection disease, like bronchitis, pneumonia because of inhaling those polluted air with different kinds of toxic. At the same time, improper disposal of e-waste also causes the contamination of water system and soil near landfills and it’s directly and indirectly affecting our health. Even the emissions due to transportation of materials also cause environmental impact. Therefore, indirect impacts of e-waste on our health are quite difficult to quantify, compared to others because of the synergistic effects and the time between exposure and reaction.

Issues of e-wasting

“While what we do with our all of our trash is an important issue,

What we do with our dangerous trash is an even bigger

and a far more critical issue. Man’s modern day problem ….

Discarded Electronics Devices are in fact, very dangerous

Items in a land fill. It must stop; now!”

Captain GreenJeans



When considering on ethical issues of e-waste, there are countries that who are doing unethical ways to disposing e-waste. When they are disposing, recycling, open burning in unethical way it leads to arise many ethical issues. Kindly there are laws according to e-waste and even though peoples are dumping e-waste which is unethical ways. Already developed countries like USA, Canada and Europe countries they are sending e-waste to the developing countries like Africa and they are saying “Out of side out of mind” this is something I think going to be problems in a feature.

Those countries may think they are doing right things according to Kants theory, because they merely think their own country, environment, and their own health. Unlike Kants theory, in consequence theory it’s wrong, because it will be affect whole the world not only the country who did it. For instance, if the outbreak is happen because of those spread of toxics, it will be spread whole over the world and even those countries people’s health will be effect.

Other ethical issues raising many people would say e-waste is good for developing countries, because its providing employment for poor peoples, otherwise they may not be able to get any formal employment. The employments of poor people’s providing enough living way to them to feed their family, give education to their children. At some point these are the stage are going to can’t take any more, developing countries will says we don’t have capacity to handling. We don’t have enough facilities, resource and man power to deal with tons and tons of e-waste. Hence in this situation they have to stop doing all those things

Environmental and Social issues

Everyone hope to do right thing when trying minimizing the environment issues. When we putting our old computer or mobile phone into the recycling bin, we all hope that bin isn’t carted off to some landfill and dumped. Since I believe this is much more important fact that we have talk in issues of e-waste, because each and every characteristic of e-waste end up with environment or social issues. For instance if developing country like Sri Lanka, and Maldives importing tons or 100 tons of e-waste where there is no proper facilities and no proper rules and regulation for e-waste. What happens to all these materials once they done burning them to extract metal or they dumping the ground of seeping into the water which affects not only them but community can have larger effect on city or stats and even it causes major air quality issues of just a small by product of this process? President and founder of Redemtech said the recycling industries always try cheating on recycling by finding cheapest way of recycling without concerning on environmental and social issues.

“The recycling industry in general has become pretty expert at finding the loopholes and cheating.”

Robert Houghton


(Lora Bentley, May 8, 2009)


They never think environmental and social issues rising recycling and disposing of e-waste. Since there are numbers of environmental issues raising on e-waste, which includes air pollution, landfill, contaminating of water, effecting of agriculture. At the same time these facts lead to elevation of social issues, like revelation of diseases for pregnant women, children etc.


When considering on legal issues in different countries, it’s seen that policy makers are struggling to find out proper solutions for management of e-waste. For instance India is a one of the country which was signed in Basel Convention in 1998 and even though they don’t have specific legislation regulating import, export or the collection and treatment of e-waste. Since the evolution of the legislative process in some of the countries policymaker considers merely issues. So according to my point of view I think instead of considering only issues, if they could have consider on how to implement those policies in notational, community and individual levels, it would be much better.

Since beginning many countries are still having lack regulation to control e-waste, which are categorized as hazards. Though, all of them have consented the Basel Convention and few of them have also ratified the Ban amendment.

In 75% of the e-waste can be reuse by repair or refurbishment, but many countries they don’t controlled such facilities like shipment of those items. It will be better control if they implement as part of any regulatory scheme, to know where the used electrical and electronic equipment is going and if it will be managed according to country environmental rules and regulation. Even it will help to stop illegally importing those types of items. If we consider on second world highest population country India, report shows that 50,000MT of e-waste is imported illegally in the year and even a record shows that city of Ahmedadbad within a month they import 30MT e-waste illegally. (Violet N. Pinto, 2008). According to the Seattle Time, a global environmental coalition details said 80% of the national recycled computers were being shipped, because of Asia laws are more lax worker safety and environmental laws.

In a most of legislation are promote reuse electrical and electronics item, but it’s much more necessary to implement as the regulation and management control not only by the importing country, but also exporting country.

According summery of legislation of different country of e-waste is showing that responsible taking only for manufacture and importer and only Denmark shows the local Government (Ref Appendix B). When considering that legislation, there are some issues rising for implementing because the consumer level no one is taking responsible. But they are the peoples who are using and throwing e-products here and there.


When considering on professional issues of e-waste, there are industry which is dealing with includes a recognized certification standard for recyclers, education of customers and even changing the regulatory. In other hand there are peoples and organization who doing this

Recommendation for action

There are number of ways to save resources and to prevent e-waste. In here mainly discuss only three ways that manufacture and consumer can prevent the e-waste with the help of the government rules and regulations.

Waste management strategic for national level

Reduce: Typically the consumers are the peoples who are buying and use of Electronic appliances; hence they can play huge roles to reduce the need to buy new electronic appliances by practicing number of ways.

They can practice good preventative maintenance to extend the life of an electronic appliance.

Always try to upgrade machine or device instead of buying a new one.

If you feel to buy a new one always look for green electronic items.


Buy a used or refurbished devices

Instead of throwing you old machine or devices donate your friends, school, and community group or non-profit.

Talk your machine to a non-profit for refurbishing and re-use.


If you feel dispose your machine or devices just call recycling centers and get ideas from them how to dispose or send them to dispose.

Technical interventions

The one of the best solution for the minimize e-waste crisis is product design and engineering at the manufacturing source by increasing safety and decreasing toxic material use. This can be done by implementing employing waste minimization techniques and by producing long durable goods.

Industries involve adopting on e- waste minimization

Production process adjustment

Number of production reduction

Refurbish and reuse

Use green products

Environment friendly product design and develop.

Longevity production

Minimize use of toxic materials for the products

According to all the enlisted principles on environmental justice is considered one of the most suitable frameworks that join is to extend Producer Responsibility. It will force the producer to follow safe disposal rule and regulation. Even it sustain environmental friendly technology, cleaner production technology and designing for longevity.

Policy-level involvements

Clearly identify the e-waste regulation in national and international level

Import and export controlling and monitoring regime

Typically unclear on the issues of e-waste and the unable the govern the rules of hazardous e-waste and ineffective monitoring the e-waste recycling leads the prime reasons for demanding society to set a separate rules to control these process.

Actions at a National level

Awareness raising activities ( make action plan for national level and implement it for national level)

Each and every nation can initiate pilot repair, refurbishment and recycling schemes and make sure that their recycler is a true recycler and not just simply an exporter of toxic e-waste.

Give proper train for customs and enforcement officer, to control illegal export or imports of electrical and electronic wastes.

Laws concerning e-waste disposal should be reviewed and revamped and government should strictly curb the import of e-wastes from other countries.


In a concluding we have find issues of e-waste becoming a big problem in the globally and the detrimental effects of e-waste are growing as a major issues in each of the countries in world wide. Even though e-waste in some of the countries are partially collected and reused and recycled as a second hand products, but other countries are doing unethical ways, especially small scale shops who are working in occupationally hazardous conditions inefficient ways and that lead to detrimental to the environment.

Since beginning of the report noticed that most of the countries (e.g. India, China) they don’t have proper legal framework for e-waste management, local e-waste mechanisms and they are faced some of difficulties to implement those legal framework.

At the same time I have discussed on the report some of the issues raise on e-waste, which including ethical, legal, professional, social and environmental issues. In social and environmental issues of the report I have discussed what are the main issues we have seen in environmental and social issues in e-waste? For instance, because of e-waste the air pollution, contamination of water, and some of the skin and respiratory disease are causing. At the same time ethical, profession, and legal issues also discussed in this report, which highlighted on, whether all the countries are doing e-waste process on ethical way according rules and relation of countries. Even in this report I have given summary of some country laws to understand their laws on e-waste.

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To extended manufacture, and consumer responsibility is one of the main solutions for the environmentally sound management of e-wastes. Final part of the report I have given recommending for action and under this section I have found some of the solution that all nation can implement on e-waste program. Even some of the countries try to intend to adopt that kind of method and they face difficulties in introducing those program, hence they need strictly follow those rule and regulation.


Appendix B

Europe countries



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