Helen Keller believed, "As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill." How true this is with the quality of life transcending all possibilities of human growth, which is polluting the world's landscape with gadgetry, TVs, computers and cell phones.
International Data Corp (IDC) estimated 835 million PCs were sold worldwide between 1981 and 2000 and in 2001; 138 million PCs will be sold worldwide. In other words that is a 48 percent increase of computers sold in 2001. This has led to approximately 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste that is generated globally each year. This represents more than five percent of the solid waste in the world. Due to the fact that there are over 112,000 computers discarded each day and over 11 million computers discarded in 2007.
In Asia for example; China is the largest e-waste site in the world. It processes 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste annually according to the local government website. Looking domestically e-waste in Korea has been steadily rising, due to economic growth and the shortening life span of electronic products. Thus, Korea has many cell phones as people and this leaves the question how many of these people are on their second, third or even fourth cell phone.
Where does e-waste go The majority of it gets exported to developing countries in Asia and Africa. The expected volume in e-waste is supposed to triple in developing countries in 2010. The British Environment agency states that apparently, 23,000 tonnes of electronic waste is being dumped into Africa from Britain every year. The U.S. exports about 80 percent of their e-waste to Asia and only two percent of PCs ever find their way to a second user.
The growing concerns are coming from developing countries such Kenya, where lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing e-waste more profitable. Due to the fact that developing countries are in a growing demand for electronic equipment, which is crippled by an inadequate infrastructure to manage e-waste properly. This leads to e-waste to be burnt into the air or dumped into the local water supply. Thus, e-waste is consuming a dangerous proportion of the world and there needs to be growing awareness for this devastating problem.
Therefore, future challenges need to be made in order to deal with potential problems associated with e-waste recycling and management at the global stage. Strengthening cooperation among government, civil society and companies for collecting e-waste, promoting purchase of green products or the world will continue to see it wounded by its own skill.