How often do you update your phone, change your devices, and replace your electronics at work or home? Most of us do not consider environmental considerations when buying the latest iPhone or the newest generation LCD TV, but the way we dispose of e-waste has a significant impact on the environment.
The lifespan of electronics is short. Thus, annually approximately 50 million tons of e-waste are generated globally, and the amount of e-waste generated in the Republic of Moldova is about 10,000 tons.
If an electrical appliance has the sign of a barred wheeled bin, it means that waste is in the category of separate collection.
These signs warn that electrical and electronic waste must not be disposed of with your household waste or in nature
Fortunately, almost 100% of e-waste is recyclable.
WHY SHOULD WE RECYCLE WASTE?
There are two principal reasons for handing over and recycling Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE):
- They contain heavy metals, greenhouse gases, or non-biodegradable materials that are harmful to health and the environment;
- E-waste has a high degree of recycling, around 85 and 90%, valuable quantities of secondary raw materials will be recovered.
At the EU level, the recycling of WEEE is a priority, with the Member States required to integrate and implement specific measures in this regard. Also, in Romania, the fines for individuals who do not separate WEEE at home to hand over in the specialized collection system are between 500 RON and 1,000 RON, and for legal entities, the amount of the fines are between 5,000 RON and 10,000 RON. Do you know any details about the obligatory collection in our country? Is the government going to get involved? If you know, please write in the comments.
WHAT ARE THE HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES IN WEEE?
Hazardous substances in WEEE and their harmful effects on the environment and health include:
- Freon degrades the ozone layer and contributes to global warming.
- Brominated flame retardants (organo-bromine compounds that are applied to products to inhibit or slow the ignition of combustible materials in the event of fire) do not degrade naturally in the environment, with substantial adverse effects.
- PVC is a chlorine-containing plastic and is mainly used to insulate cables. Its combustion processing is inadequate and generates emissions that remain in the environment for a long time, being the most toxic after radioactive materials.
- Mercury is part of energy-saving light bulbs, lamps, batteries, old appliances, switches, and relays. It mainly affects the kidneys and nervous system.
Cathode-ray tube: as electronic waste, cathode ray tubes are considered some of the heaviest types of recycling. The cathode ray tube has a relatively high concentration of lead and phosphorescent substance (not phosphorus), both of which are required for display.
PCB capacitors are polychlorinated biphenyl compounds. They are found in older appliances, manufactured until 1987: washing machines, refrigeration equipment, dishwashers, hoods, dryers, microwave ovens, ballast for fluorescent lighting sources, lamps, copying equipment, decrement unit.
WAYS TO REDUCE ELECTRONIC WASTE
1. We assess the need at the acquisition stage
We do NOT buy if it is not needed. It would be correct to inform and ask ourselves if a new device (gadget) is essential. It could be that we want this device due to a beautifully presented story through a commercial that influenced us.
This recommendation is the first and most important – “zero moment” – if the product is not purchased, no waste will be generated. It may not be appropriate to acquire the device at this time, but to postpone the purchase for later – for example, in the case of a TV that will be cheaper in a year, will have more features, more diagonal, and will consume less electricity, and here we win.
2. We focus on quality
Buy a quality product, even if it may be more expensive. These products often have a longer lifespan, respectively amortize the expenses, and reduce extra waste. We choose equipment that has a longer life or can be used repeatedly, such as rechargeable batteries.
3. We extend the life of the device
We keep the device in working order for as long as possible. We buy a protective phone case and glass, keep the gadget clean, and avoid overcharging the battery.
We’re fixing the device. Usually, when equipment fails, only one part is damaged, and in most common cases, it can be repaired. Most of the time, the repair will cost us much less than buying a new device.
We change the destination for further use of the device. In this case, we can use a secondary function of the device. For example, an old mobile phone can be used as a GPS navigator in the car.
4. We share, rent or exchange
Each of these options avoids turning a product into waste. Therefore, you can use certain devices, such as phone chargers, with your family members, share a drill with your neighbor, and so on. At the same time, you might try renting for double use. We manage to exclude storage due to non-use of the electronic device but additionally earn money from rent.
5. We refurbish
Refurbishment is intended to return the device to its usable condition. We purchase refurbished products or alternatively we can give back the old equipment to electronics stores.
6. We donate
By donating we manage to give a second life to the equipment, and someone will be happy that they received what they wanted. We can donate to charities, orphanages, and people in need, especially of various electrical and electronic equipment, certainly in functional condition.
7. We sell
If the device is in working order, instead of throwing it into the trash or storing it, an alternative method would be to sell the it.
8. WE GET RID OF ECO-RESPONSIBLE
We dispose of electronics and batteries in specially designed recycling bins. For example, on the Map of e-waste collection points , you can find the nearest location where ECORECYCLING dumpsters can be found, additionally on the ecircular platform, or Moldova#Faradeseuri, where you can see the collection points of several authorized operators.
It should be mentioned that within the “𝙍𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙘𝙡𝙖̆𝙢 𝘿𝙀𝙀𝙀 𝙨̦𝙞 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙯𝙖̆𝙢 𝙊𝘿𝘿” project, implemented by EcoDigital, with the support of the GEF – PNUD Small Grants Program UNDP Moldova, more than 70 dumpsters were installed for the collection of electronic and electrical waste, by the authorized operator ECORECYCLING .