Tuesday June 24 2014

Electronic waste is killing the environment

By Brenda Friday

In this era of advanced technology, the use of electronic equipment has become a mainstay of our way of life, however little is known about the devastating effects it has on the environment. Environmental impacts from electronic devices are very eminent and this calls for a close scrutiny of its effects on the environment as we embrace the role they play in society.

Electronics use significant amounts of energy from sources such as coal fired power plants which contribute to global warming. Media houses need a lot of energy to run the electronics as they go with their work. But the danger is that the machines emit a lot of heat which leads to the depletion of the ozone layer and consequently global warming and climate change.

Globally, manufacturing of electronic equipment and IT infrastructure requires a significant amount of energy and the gases released are harmful to the environment. Electronic devices like phones, computers and TV sets employ a number of petrochemicals and bio accumulative toxins that can create environmental and health risks by leaching into soil and pollutes water sources and air when they are discarded of inappropriately.

For instance, in Uganda there are several uncontrolled streams of electronic waste i.e. used computers, mobile phones, printers etc from suppliers which are not only potentially dangerous to the environment but to humans as well amidst poor mechanisms of disposing of e-waste.
This has a huge bearing on the environment ,especially in instances of weak and poor regulations. According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, around 300,000 PCs were installed in Uganda and 15 per cent of these were second hand computers and around 50,000 might have reached their end of life yet a few portion seemed to appear in the e-waste stream.

The Electronic Waste Management Policy (2012) needs to be beefed up with strong guidelines and regulations to realise reduce of e-waste and its related impact on the environment. But if we continue making unsustainable choices concerning the environment, then the destruction will become a bitter truth.

Ms Friday works with Natural Resources Governance and Development (ANARDE)