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E-Waste, Whose Responsibility?

7/23/2018

Each year there are 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste discarded in the world. E-waste contains toxic materials, including heavy metals, that can easily seep into the ground and ultimately get into groundwater supplies. Then who should be responsible for this situation?

The first one is the governments all over the world. Policies should be made to prevent E-waste. For example, EPA works bilaterally with governments and environmental officials around the world on e-waste management.  EPA and Environmental Protection Administration Taiwan (EPAT) coordinate the International E-Waste Management Network (IEMN), which has brought together environmental officials from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and North America to exchange best practices on e-waste management since 2011.  

The second one is the industry. For example, Samsung Electronics has developed voluntary take-back programmes for its products at the end of their working lives in North America, Europe and Asia. This responsibility includes ensuring that all collected products are recycled in the most efficient way to minimize the volume of unrecoverable materials and maximize the usable materials.

The third one is the consumers. There are several actions consumers can take against this e-waste crisis. For instance, consumers should buy products that use recycled materials or can be updated rather than being dumped when newer versions appear. In addition, consumers can buy energy-saving appliances to cut their environmental impact. Additionally, consumers purchase products with strong take-back policies. Lastly, concerned consumers can contact electronic companies and demand for higher quality products that last longer and can be repaired rather than thrown away. It is vital that consumers recycle old electronics so that energy can be conserved.

In a word, we all should take responsibility to solve the e-waste problem.

Thanks for reading.