OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND – Poster made on the problem Electronic Waste – E-waste. 

A comment on how Millions of tonnes of old electronic goods illegally exported to developing countries, as people dump luxury items.

The exponential technological development of recent decades is counterbalanced by the accumulation of electronic waste (e-waste), the world’s fastest growing type of waste.

Technology has been at the service of the visionary man and society for many years -and although the gap between countries is wide, and the access to it does not even cover 42% of mankind yet- this has not prevented people from being surrounded by electronic devices in a daily basis, almost in a natural and unquestionable way. It even seems to be an extension of ourselves. But as everything has a beginning and an end, these also have a shelf life and then become one of the biggest problems as opposed to the principles upon there were created.

We all contribute daily to the production of e-waste. More than 46 million metric tons per year are generated, averaging 6 kilograms per inhabitant of the planet. WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) may contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals such as beryllium, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, selenium, antimony, mercury and lead, besides gold, silver and copper.

Around 60% of e-waste, consists of large and small household appliances, from refrigerators and washing machines to toasters, vacuum cleaners, shaving machines, etc. and 7% is made up of cell phones, computers, printers and other information technology equipment. Electronic waste is full of toxic components that are exposed and react with air, sunshine or rain, emitting chemicals that pollute the air, water and soil. Sooner or later these substances enter our bodies and make us sick.

Only 17% of this waste is recycled in the world. The real challenge is to generate sustainable policies, which improve living conditions and environmental cleanliness through recycling. Recycling generates profits and the transformation of electronic scrap generates resources for manufacturing.

According to the United Nations University, a change in consumer attitudes could also reduce the problem. Evaluating prices, questioning the lifetime or disposability of what we buy. We must create conscious markets, where a responsibility for electronic waste management lies with manufacturers is very present, creating a competitive market amongst similar products. Also as consumers, we must raise awareness and demand a recycling accountability.

We must understand that the problem of e-waste should not only be attributed to producers, but also to an economy that encourages exaggerated consumption and planned obsolescence, for the greed of industries and self- indulgence of consumers. We are all involved in this.

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Out of Sight – Out of Mind

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