Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Waste, Recycling, World, Products, Business, People, Environment, Countries

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/12/08

English 108

New Age of Waste
Where do our old devices go to when people throw them away? Modern technology is in the age where inventions are created on a daily basis, but thinking of that would probably open a gate of tons of questions. Any person such as Annie Leonard, who is American proponent of sustainability, went on journey to search for some answers. From the first glance at a typical house, junk will be found everywhere. Our garages at home are filled with junk of electronic waste; the old big Jurassic TV and their offspring the old computer monitors. These kinds of devices are harming our planet because of what they have inside of them, (for example; lead, plastic and other materials). The journey of electronics goes throw the whole process, from the mining areas of manufacturing and ending with exporting waste to poor countries.

Thesis: Putting into use e-waste products through recycling would help minimize major hazards caused by discarded electronic products.

The problem
We should not dig the earth for expensive rare metals such as gold, copper, europium, and scandium, due to the lack of them in our Earth. Mining for minerals from the ground would only harm our planet. Old phones do have these elements inside them, which will lead to decrease the mining plans and would be beneficial as well (Shell 2). According to Ellen Shell,an American journalist and a professor of science journalism at Boston University, “Each ton of cell phones contains more than 12 ounces of gold, nearly 8 pounds of silver, and 286 pounds of copper” (Shell 2). Also, the process behind it is tremendously complicated. For example in some areas of southern California, where europium was extracted from the earth in Mountain Pass from late 1980’s until the start of 2000’s. Europium is the element that gave the old TV’s colors, but while people were digging earth for europium, it surrounding was getting tons of pollution from the leftovers (Ramirez). Dr. Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist that has researched the rare element on our planet, and she found out that factories have used the majority of them. The nature needs more attention, not by cutting trees to make roads for the mining trucks and equipment. But by using the element that already had been extracted and available in hands from people junkyards. Lastly, the most affected by this are people who live in rural areas and have been forced to leave their homeland. The destination of these people will always be the cities, which will give them the chance to work in any career for survival.
The technology is rapidly improving but on the other hand it is the quality has fallen down. The life span of an underlying model of phone that came out in 2015 will probably be a year or two maximum. The co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore shows that power-processing computers take about two years to be sent to retirement. At any given time, the devices that were high-tech in the past are going to be abandoned by us even when they still work fine. As for now, more and more of the young generation of software engineers are continuously are making programs that will eventually take over all the super power supplied from the newest tech available (Carroll 2). Consumers watch all the advertisements that sell new technology even if it is not needed. Governments and big companies are pushing people to keep the Golden Arrow going on. Leonard explained in her video The Story of Stuff how the consumers would not stop buying things, due to the forces that control stores and ads. Manufacturing the devices is simply “toxics in, toxics out” according to Leonard in Story of Stuff. The chemical materials that factories use in making electronic devices, where the raw materials utilized in the insides circuits are dangerously toxic. The newborn devices are already having these materials in them, which make them toxic as well. Also, The disposals from factories toxic the earth after boring their chemicals on our soil or even worse like water sources.
Exporting will never be the solution. Even after more than 62 countries agreed on, not to export e-waste, there are still some violations from some of the countries. Some people consider the easiest and most efficient way to get rid of the waste. Countries on the East side of Africa are one of the places where giant mountains of junk. The biggest issue from exporting the waste to developing countries is the age of workers, where a lot of workers under the age of 12. Also, the numbers of chemicals that sit around the area is a hazard for the people who work there. According to the Basel Action Network, who is an environmental advocacy group, “Americans are less willing to invest in change because it is so cheap to simply ship waste abroad and profitable to poison the poor” (qtd. in Shell 2). It takes endless time for the cities to recover from the poison after it sat down tons of electronic waste for years.

E-Waste Recycling

The electronics industry has recorded a significance growth over the last decades. Electronic equipments have become part of today’s life calling for advanced methods of putting used electronic products into better use. E-waste problem requires a lasting solution in order to protect the environment and ensure living creatures live long and healthy in the future. The most effective solution to e-waste products is recycling. Technology keeps advancing as more gadgets are introduced each day. All these gadgets need a waste management program that will ensure the safety of the environment. Data from U.S. Environment Protection Agency reveals that each year two million tons of e-waste is generated and left in the open to leak toxic materials across the landscape (Shell 1). Recycling e-waste materials not only helps reduce the amount of toxic materials generated by discarded electronic gadgets but also creates employment opportunities and encourages innovations. Many nations have started e-waste recycling plants, and they prove to offer a solution to e-waste problems.
A common global agenda aims at creating sustainable innovation in order to promote sustainable technologies, products and services in the market through a well-though market concept. E-waste resources and toxic control have a lot of significant in reducing global warming effects. Recycling e-waste helps minimize many dangerous effects caused by hazardous electronic waste products dumped into our environment each single day. Recycling helps conserve the environment because some gadgets might be re-used to make new products instead of exploiting the environment for new resources. For example, mobile phone manufacturers use rare earth elements to make these gadgets. “electrical and electronic resources contain a wide range of components made from plastics, metals and other elements.. (Schluep et al. 7)”. Discarded gadgets contain some of these elements and when recycled would help save miners time and resources of looking for new elements. “Electronic recycling can reduce this problem, as valuable minerals, instead of being wrenched out of the ground, are extracted from old machines and reused (Shell 2).”
On the other hand, e-waste recycling process encourages innovations in the area of technology, arts, and design. Youths across the world have undertaken an initiative aimed at making use of e-waste products to make many design products that are sold in the market. For instance, computer motherboards, resistors, and capacitors are used in architecture and landscaping to make structural designs that look attractive and beautiful. Additionally, waste materials such as mobile headsets are used to make toys and other equipments that are sold to the market. The above innovations help solve the problem of e-waste management because experts are out there waiting for people to discard their old electronic gadgets. On the other hand, the government in collaboration with environment agencies offers necessary support in terms of money and resources to groups or people engaging in e-waste recycling programs in order to end waste management issue improper disposal of e-waste products.


Many countries have succeeded in implementing e-waste recycling programs. Switzerland managed to put up an e-waste recycling plant that has seen major changes in the country’s waste management process since 1991. More than 98 percent of e-waste products is recycled in the country and used to produce energy for major factories (Ellen Ruppel 3). The above strategy would be more effective if used in European Union countries where electronic equipments accounts for approximately ten percent of all waste produced. Establishing an e-waste recycling plant in every country would be the only working solution to the high number of electronic waste products produced in the world today.

Works Cited

Carroll, Chris. "High-Tech Trash." - National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic, Jan. 2008: 1-3 Print.
Leonard, Annie. The Story of Stuff. Dir.Luis Fox. Prodoced by Free Range Studios. Story of Stuff.orge . 01 Dec. 2007. Film.
Ramirez, Ainissa. "Where to Find Rare Earth Elements." PBS. PBS, 02 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Schluep, Mathias., et al. “Recycling-from E-waste to resources.” Technology Transfer
Industrial Sector Studies, UNEP. Web March 5, 2015 http://www.unep.org/pdf/Recycling_From_e-waste_to_resources.pdf
Shell, Ellen Ruppell. "Electronic Waste Hurts the Environment." The Environment. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Thrashed: Ever Wonder Where the Cell Phone or Computer You Toss Ends Up?" Audubon (2008): 90-97. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Print. 1-3.

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