E-Waste Management Market: Health Risks & Tactical Solutions

According to Inkwood Research, the global e-waste management market is forecasted to reach $100566.03 million by 2028 in terms of revenue, growing at a CAGR of 12.37%. E-waste incorporates a combination of valuable recyclable materials, often left unutilized, and hazardous substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium, posing potential threats to both human health and the environment. 

The demand for electrical and electronic equipment is on the rise in contemporary society, encouraged by heightened disposable incomes, expanding urbanization and industrialization, and population growth. The improper disposal of e-waste can lead to soil, air, and water contamination, adversely affecting ecosystems. 

Efforts to address this issue include regulatory measures and the promotion of responsible recycling practices. As technology advances, the need for sustainable e-waste management becomes vital to mitigate environmental impact and safeguard public health.

E-Waste Management Market - Inkwood Research

E-Waste: Silent Dangers to Public Health

According to industry sources, the global generation of e-waste reached 57.4 million metric tonnes in 2021, with an annual increase averaging 2 million metric tonnes

The increasing pattern highlights the imperative need for efficient e-waste management solutions. By 2024, the total volume of unprocessed electronic waste globally will surpass 347 million metric tonnes. Moreover, only 17.4% of the total worldwide electronic waste has been properly gathered and recycled.

While the environmental impact of e-waste is widely acknowledged, its repercussions on public health remain a silent threat, often overshadowed. 

In this blog, we will delve into the key impact of e-waste on public health

  1. Heavy Metal Poisoning: E-waste frequently harbors lead, a hazardous heavy metal known to inflict harm on the nervous system. Exposure to lead can lead to developmental challenges in children and pose substantial health risks for adults.
    Moreover, the batteries within electronic devices house mercury and cadmium. Improper disposal of these devices releases these toxic elements into the environment, resulting in contamination of the air, soil, and water sources. This contamination gives rise to a plethora of health complications, escalating the critical need for proper e-waste management to mitigate the heavy metal poisoning that endangers public health.
  2. Respiratory and Skin Issues: E-waste undergoes incineration, emitting harmful fumes into the air. Inhaling these pollutants can result in respiratory problems and skin irritations, significantly affecting the health of communities residing near e-waste disposal sites. The release of toxic substances during the incineration process underlines the potential threats presented by e-waste to respiratory and dermatological well-being.

    Addressing these concerns becomes imperative to safeguard the health of individuals living in proximity to areas where electronic waste is disposed of or processed, highlighting the urgency for responsible and regulated management of e-waste.

  3. Endocrine Disruption: Brominated flame retardants (BFRs), present in electronics to confer fire resistance, are recognized as endocrine disruptors. These chemicals, acknowledged for their ability to interfere with hormonal functions, present a significant threat.
    Further, prolonged exposure to BFRs, commonly released during the processing of e-waste, can result in disruptions to the endocrine system, potentially leading to a range of reproductive and developmental issues. The prevalence of these substances in electronic devices underscores the importance of addressing endocrine disruptions associated with e-waste, emphasizing the need for comprehensive measures to mitigate the impact on human health.
  4. Impact on Children: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 12.9 million women are involved in the informal waste sector, exposing them to potential hazards from toxic e-waste and endangering their well-being and the health of their unborn children.

    Simultaneously, over 18 million children and adolescents, some as young as 5 years old, actively participate in the informal industrial sector, particularly in waste processing. In areas lacking e-waste regulations, a concerning trend emerges as children frequently engage in dismantling and processing electronic waste, exposing them to hazardous materials. 

    This presents a serious threat to their physical and mental well-being, raising urgent concerns about their overall development. Stringent regulations and comprehensive measures are urgently required to protect children from the harmful effects of e-waste exposure. 

  5. Risks Associated with Carcinogenic Substances: E-waste constitutes a substantial risk due to its potential carcinogenic effects. In particular, during informal and unregulated recycling processes, harmful substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may be released.

    PAHs are recognized as carcinogens, and prolonged exposure to these chemicals, often prevalent in e-waste recycling operations, can elevate the risk of cancer. The carcinogenic effects of e-waste underline the imperative for responsible and regulated disposal methods to mitigate health risks associated with the hazardous substances present in electronic waste.

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E-Waste Management Market: Eco-Friendly Solutions

  • Minimizing E-Waste through Electronics-As-A-Service: The traditional model of ownership and eventual disposal of electronic devices contributes significantly to the high e-waste crisis. Electronics-as-a-service, however, represents a paradigm shift by offering a subscription-based approach to accessing and using electronic devices. Instead of owning a device outright, users pay for the services or functionality they require, promoting a more sustainable and circular economy.

    Returning devices to service providers for responsible disposal, refurbishment, or recycling under Electronics-as-a-service (EaaS) extends product lifespan, curbing e-waste generation. Fostering reuse aligns with environmental sustainability, mitigating the ecological impact of electronic consumption.

  • Preserving Valuable Metals and Promoting a Circular Economy: Preserving valuable metals, such as gold, silver, and copper, through proper e-waste recycling reduces the need for new raw materials. This resource conservation helps alleviate the environmental impact of mining and extraction processes, which often contribute to habitat destruction and pollution.

    In addition, integrating circular design principles in electronic product manufacturing encourages the design of devices with ease of disassembly and recyclability in mind. This approach promotes the repair, refurbishment, and recycling of electronic products, extending their usability.

  • Progress in Refurbishing and Reusing Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE):
    This initiative is essential in responsible e-waste management. Companies lead cleaner alternatives, moving away from practices like burning that release toxins. Prioritizing refurbishment and reuse, businesses promote sustainability, extending device lifespan and reducing the need for raw material extraction. This minimizes the environmental impact linked to mining and manufacturing.

Stay up-to-date with what’s trending in the Global E-Waste Management Market

The e-waste threat demands swift global action. Recognizing risks, spreading awareness, and adopting responsible practices are crucial in the e-waste management market. Embracing sustainable alternatives, advocating stringent regulations, and powering global collaboration is essential to reduce the harmful impact of e-waste. 

As the utilization of sustainable alternatives increases, the empowerment of communities and the fostering of global collaborations continue to shape e-waste management globally. The sustained demand for improving sustainability and effectiveness in waste disposal solutions is projected to drive the growth of the e-waste management market during the forecast period.

 

By Vani Punj

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    FAQ

    EPR programs place responsibility on manufacturers for the entire life cycle of their products, including proper disposal. This encourages manufacturers to design products with recyclability in mind and to establish a recycling infrastructure.

    Improper disposal of e-waste can lead to soil and water contamination, air pollution, and the release of hazardous substances. This can harm ecosystems, wildlife, and human health.