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E-waste: How technology harms nature

With the rapid development of technology, all the fans of the newest gadgets are replacing their devices more frequently, although some of those devices are still functional and working. This practice of frequently replacing the electronic devices contributes to the massive amounts of e-waste generated worldwide. E-waste is a generic term used to describe a variety of old, dysfunctional or replaced devices, containing components powered by electricity.

Inappropriately discarded electronic devices and parts (e-waste) are dangerous for the environment and human health because they contain toxic elements that are spread through the soil, groundwater and surface waters and through the air by smoke from the landfills. This category includes household appliances such as refrigerators and toasters, ICT equipment such as laptops and smart phones, devices for general use, such as TV sets and mp3 players, devices such as electric drills and sewing machines, and the list goes on.

The situation with e-waste is still not alarming in Macedonia, so it is the right time to create a system for proper e-waste management. Research indicates that Macedonian households have the biggest problem with large household appliances (stove, refrigerator, etc.), whereas the problem with ICT equipment will appear in the near future, particularly as this category of devices is the fastest changing one. This is the current state with the household equipment:

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This means that 52% of the households have a PC, 29% of the households have a laptop and 92% of the households have a TV set with a cathode tube; devices that are still in use and present potential e-waste.

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The table shows the percent of devices in the category of e-waste, that for some reason are still kept in the households.

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The table refers to e-waste that has been removed from the households. The most commonly used method for removing e-waste from the households is donating it or selling it to a seller of second hand goods. Are you applying the same practices?

This text is part of the ‘Balkan e-waste management advocacy network’ project and is the first of the series of articles to be posted on this topic. The next article will provide more information on how you should properly handle your e-waste.

The text was originally published at IT.com.mk

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