When you think of pollution issues, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Factories spewing smoke? Great Pacific Garbage Patch? The first thing you think of probably isn't a phone. We have all been taught to reduce, reuse and recycle, but for most of us, we just put the right things in the right coloured bins. But for some reason, the three rs don't apply to electronics. 50-60% of regular waste is recycled. While only 20% of e-waste is properly collected and recycled.

The other 80% is releasing toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead and cadmium into the world's water and soil. Electronic waste is often are overlooked because we do not have enough resources to handle the prodigious rate of consumption. There aren't enough recyclers for e-waste. We throw out our electronics when they could easily be repaired.

While e-waste is a growing problem, we cannot ignore how electronics help makes life easier and more accessible. Technology is such a big part of the modern world.

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It helps us save time because of instantaneous communication and also gives us easy access to information. It improves the quality of life for people who are sick or have disabilities. Life expectancy would decrease immensely without it. However, there are adverse consequences for our highly digitised world.

On a small scale, technology in the form of a phone has created a world of dependencies. The rate we consume technology is not only unhealthy for us short term, but also has detrimental long term effects on the environment.

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We face constant stress from being unable to disconnect. We also have growing problems with security and the manipulation of technology such as the rise in superimposed "deep fakes". But the main problem with technology is that we produce it at a colossal rate, but do not have reasonable waste management strategies to match its magnitude. And instead of dealing with it ourselves, we - along with the USA, Western Europe and Asia - ship waste overseas to places like Agbogloshie in Accra, Ghana.

Agbogloshie is the largest e-waste dump in the world. The level of lead in the soil is 5 times the recommended level by the World Health Organisation. The workers at Agbogbloshie can be as young as 6 years old. Most of them will die before they reach their 20's. To scrounge for valuable metals like copper, worker's will burn the electronics, releasing toxic fumes into the air. At the cost of their health, they get paid $5 a day. The area is extremely polluted, and yet people live and cultivate cattle on site.

The biggest fruit market in North Africa is only a street away. This means that not only are the people working at the site are being poisoned, but the contamination is spread throughout Accra. E-waste is shipped over under the false pretence of it being a donation of "usable second-hand goods" or "development aid".

The shipping containers contain reusable electronics at the front, while the rest is packed with junk that remains unchecked. This is not only immoral but also illegal. But since it benefits the owners of the site -who profit greatly from the cheap labour and a ceaseless flow of metals to sell to other companies- and the countries who believe that rather than dealing with their problem, they should take advantage of people in poverty -including children- who have no choice, and get them to deal with it for them. Out of sight, out of mind.

Updated: Feb 19, 2021
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Problem Of E-Waste Today. (2019, Dec 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/problem-of-e-waste-today-essay

Problem Of  E-Waste  Today essay
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