E-waste: Third World versus Linear Economy

Ben Hallam | April 2020 | Editorial

The consistent disposing of common electronic hardware products in Europe and the United States has created a significant world health concern.  The excessive amounts of e-waste are damaging the earth and may be responsible for the growing commonality of cancer.

According to the EETimes, “U.S. households are spending an average of $1,200 a year on electronic gadgets” and “The average home has 25 consumer-electronic devices”. The majority of these products owned by each American household will be discarded into waste. Not to mention, this number is not including the hardware wasted by large companies and corporations. Where does that waste go? Much of the United States’ e-waste is dumped into an under-privileged territory in Africa, Agbogbloshie.[/vc_column_text][us_image image=”725″ size=”full” css=”%7B%22default%22%3A%7B%22padding-bottom%22%3A%2230px%22%7D%7D”][vc_column_text]According to The Guardian, “an adult eating just a single egg in the Agbogbloshie scrap yard and slum would exceed the European Food Safety Authority limits on chlorinated dioxins 220 times over.” Chlorinated dioxins, for those who don’t know, are directly related to cancer. This raises concern that the United States is potentially forcing less fortunate people into toxic living conditions. To make things worse, Agbogbloshie isn’t the only area that e-waste is being forcefully dumped.

Bangladesh, and its people, are being destroyed by waste. Some metals in the e-waste can be harmful. Mercury, for example, according to hepatology professor Mamun Al Mahtab, “might cause kidney damage, cancer, asthma, nervous breakdown, early hair fall and other serious diseases.” The people of Bangladesh are unable to do anything about the abundance of e-waste. These people are forced to deal with the consequences of wasting materials, while privileged countries continue living in blissful ignorance.

This linear approach to economics is unsustainable for the environment. Fortunately, more businesses are beginning to realize this, but the sooner everyone makes a shift, the better off the world will be.

The circular approach is much more sustainable, and contrary to popular belief, it is beneficial for all parties involved. While the government can try to support the change to a circular economy, the businesses and consumers are responsible for making the shift. Without proper cooperation from both parties, there will either not be enough supply for consumers desiring to purchase remanufactured items, or there will not be enough demand for businesses to create and sell remanufactured items.

It is important for people to educate themselves on the reality of buying remanufactured. For instance, it is common belief that remanufactured items do not last as long as an item bought new. However, remanufactured items average a 3-4 year life span after they have been restored. In addition, it is important to understand the difference between “used” and “remanufactured”. Anyone can sell their previously used items on the gray market, in whatever condition they may be. Remanufactured products, though, are rebuilt to the exact specifications of the originally manufactured product.

PureWrx has been trusted by several large corporations to remanufacture and sell hardware. Companies such as AT&T have been incredibly loyal customers to PureWrx because of the attention to detail and care put into each product. These companies that rely on PureWrx to distribute high quality remanufactured items believe in the circular economy, and they are effectively pursuing change for the better.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]