The Impact of E-Waste on the Environment

In so many ways, life has improved because access to technology has made life easier and safer. Technology has given us access to information, enabled us to communicate across distances, and developed time-saving measures.

Still, there are also drawbacks to a life filled with technology, including the damage caused by electronic waste (e-waste) to our environment.

What is Electronic Waste?

E-waste refers to any product that contains an electronic component (a cable, cord, or battery) and has reached the end of its usable life cycle. Often, these products are simply discarded, ending up in landfills or burned to make room for more waste.

Electronic waste only fills about 2% of our landfills. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  However, the problem is that e-waste is often not disposed of properly. All electronics contain toxic and hazardous substances, including lead, beryllium, polyvinyl chloride, and mercury. That minimal amount in our landfills is responsible for 70% of toxic waste.

“But I recycle!” you say with passion.

Unfortunately, even if you have made the effort to recycle your electronics, it often ends up being placed in landfills, incinerated, or shipped to developing countries. According to the Geneva Environment Record,  “Recycling rates globally are low.” They are talking about recycling that has been officially reported, properly collected, and recycled.

In the United States alone about 15% of our e-waste is properly recycled. Worldwide, the average is 20%.  The EU leads the world in recycling e-waste, at 35%.

Environmental Risks

These recycling numbers are simply not enough.

E-waste is toxic—impacting the air, the earth, the water, and the entire ecosystem that supports plants, animals, and humans.  

Negative Effects on the Air

As more e-waste gets dumped, they are often mined for valuable materials. People of all ages (including children) will dismantle, shred, or melt material, releasing dust particles and toxins into the air. Burning electronics helps extract copper. Using acids and other chemicals that release toxic fumes enables the extraction of gold and silver.

Now obviously, the workers have the most direct exposure, but when burning e-waste, these tiny particles can travel thousands of miles, affecting the air quality for everyone in their path.

Air pollution of this type of waste:

  • Damages ecosystems
  • Causes chronic diseases and cancers
  • Can cause neurological damage to larger animals, wildlife, and humans

Negative Effects of e-Waste on the Soil

When e-waste is left in a landfill, heat and weather can break them down, allowing toxic chemicals to leach into the soil. In addition, the larger particles released from melting, burning, and dismantling also settle down into the soil.

The heavy metals and toxins that land in the soil, then contaminate everything, including groundwater and crops. This damage will last for years, and cause health problems for everyone who comes into contact—from the smallest microorganisms to any animal that lives off the land, including humans. 

Negative Effects of e-Waste on the Water

Are you seeing a cycle? The contaminated air lands on the soil, or the toxic chemicals leak into the soil. This all seeps into the ground water, which then ends up in ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. The water becomes more acidic or toxic, killing underwater ecosystems. But that’s not all, because clean drinking water becomes hard to find. Every creature needs to drink.

Negative Effects of e-Waste on Life

Basically, by dumping and or recycling e-waste irresponsibly, it damages every living creature, including humans. Entire eco-systems can be destroyed, or be contaminated for unknown lengths of time. Food and water can be contaminated or scarce. Entire species may be destroyed. 

These toxins can also cause a wide variety of human illnesses by affecting the brain, heart, liver, kidney, and skeletal systems. Often, exposure to these materials will cause birth defects as well.

What to Do About e-Waste? Get Rewarded for Recycling Your Electronics Responsibly with Ncentiva!

At  we want to help the world. We also want to help you help the world.

It’s a win-win situation. All you have to do is reach out to Ncentiva today to get a price quote for your old electronics.

If you accept the quote, Ncentiva will help you ship your electronics at no cost to you for a final assessment. The good news, that also helps you, is that, by taking action to help the environment, you get the reward of top brand gift cards worth up to 20% more than the standard trade-in value of your device.

We take care of the rest, making sure that your electronics get recycled properly, rather than dumped. Help the planet, start your trade-in today!

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