The impact of the electronic society BY Consumer electronics are increasingly treated as disposable items. Companies create this consumer climate by constantly marketing new technologies, rendering fairly recent products obsolete. In 1999 the average life-span of a computer In the united States was four to six years. In 2005 the life-span had dropped to less than two years. (National Safety Council, 2006) Personal computers contain toxic heavy metals such as barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, zinc. Nickel and lead ( . , 2006). All of these materials are regulated by the ERA.
According to the study on heavy metal content of personal computers by and colleagues, each of these elements occur in concentrations higher than the federally regulated levels. The steadily growing stream of electronic waste poses a threat to human health and environmental integrity. In 2005, more than 63 million personal computers will be disposed of according to a recent study by National Safety Council. When these computers are retired there are four options: recycling, donating, returning to the manufacturer, throwing In the trash. The most common procedure is throwing it way. In 2005 an estimated 5. Billion pounds of electronic waste was generated (ERA, 2005). Of this, only 9% was recycled ( . , 2006). When computers end up In landfills It Is possible that the toxic metal can leach Into . The developed the Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCP) to simulate a scenario in which toxic materials leach out into landfills. ( 2003, & Townsend 2003) These tests show that lead and other toxic metals in e-waste do leach. This is an environmental hazard that can not be ignored, however, alternative ND-of-life options are yet to produce a cure all solution. Ho_gets_the_trash. Jpg Who Gets the Trash? Sedgwick, Philippe. “Basel Action Network: Vital Waste Graphics”. 2004 http://maps. And. No/go/graphic/who_gets_the_trash No Easy Answer Electronic-waste recycling flow exemplifies the pattern of technology and material flow In the world economy. When American consumers chose to recycle their computers, they must pay an intermediary company to pick-up their computer. This intermediary company then sells the computer to e-waste recycling operations, mostly in South and East Asia. In 2002, the United States sent 10. 2 million computers to the region, mostly China. Lies 2004) Recycling operations present challenges and opportunities for developing nations. E-waste is a source of electronic parts and valuable metals for reuse. Of the world tantalum stock, 24% is from recycled sources (Berger & Hayes 2002). These plants are provide employment waste. Jpg impoverished regions. (Lies, 2004) However, these benefits are at costs to human and environmental health. Recycling computers Is a physically complicated process. Computers must be taken apart by hand, because plastic and metals are often combined. Toxic metals can contaminate If not handled properly.
When toxic materials are not fully separated, they can return to the market In unexpected forms. Toys and other products made from improperly recycled plastics can contain traces It is a high cost industry, and is only profitable in Asia, because laborers work for very low wages. If recycling operations were to succeed in developed nations, governments would need to subsidize the process. (Lies, 2004) Environmental injustice is the systematic imposition of disproportionate environmental costs and shards on geographically, culturally, ethnically, or temporally defined groups.
Is the e-waste recycling stream a driver of environmental injustice? The positive consequences of electronic waste are greater employment, raw materials, electronic parts, and improved infrastructure within the country’s institutions. However, these benefits are concentrated in the hands of managers and the affluent classes within societies. Like coolant mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hazardous employment is perceived as an improvement over no employment. This is the result of conscious poverty.