The environmental impact of disposing a laptop

By Azrul Abas    September 6, 2021
Man recycle e-waste

 

What happens to it?

Easy to use, portable and efficient, a laptop comes with many benefits, causing an increase in its ownership. Every gadget can get damaged, and with time, obsolete too. Even though repairing an old model is a good and affordable option, many of us prefer buying a new one. Yet, have you ever thought of what will happen to the old laptop that you discard of?

 

Made from Harmful Substances

Just like any other electronic devices, it is no surprise that a laptop comprises several toxic elements. The metal plates of the laptops contain Chromium, while the motherboard and connectors are made with Beryllium. Furthermore, the wires, cables, chip resistors, and semiconductors also carry Cadmium. You can even find Mercury and Lead on some of the parts of the laptop. 

 

So what do these metals have in common then? 

All of these metals are actually hazardous and harmful to the environment if not decomposed properly. These hazardous e-waste components disrupt the environment as they seep into water and soil, and as a consequence, they affect wildlife, crops, and livestock. Eventually, these toxins enter and pass on across the food chain, eventually affecting human lives in the end.

 

What is E-waste?

Just as we define any unwanted materials as waste, any piece of equipment, which is out of use, becomes e-waste. E-Waste refers to any electronic equipment, which is near or at the end of its life. From the cooking appliance to the latest laptop, it can include all kinds of equipment. 

For example, did you know that Singapore alone produces almost 60,000 tonnes of e-waste every year? The number doesn’t seem to remain the same or decrease further.

 

Rising Standard of Living

With rising spending power and the production of cutting-edge technologies, more consumers are purchasing more electronic devices. As laptops, phones, desktops, and other gadgets have become the new essential, almost every person now owns multiple devices.

However, not every waste is repaired, refurbished, or recycled, and most of it is discarded. By now, as you are aware, there are a multitude of hazardous components in every piece of equipment.

Sure, there are arrangements made to dispose of electronic wastes, but how can we be sure that these arrangements are followed religiously? The parts in each component are extremely difficult to break down and most are not biodegradable.

 

The Big Picture

Now think about it - whenever you buy a new product, you will be adding not just one laptop but in fact multiple parts of different components onto the landfill. If these gadgets are left untreated, they will melt, warp, and crack because of the heat. Eventually, toxins will be released to seep into the soil.

This will not only impact the environment but will also negatively affect other living creatures. Now consider this for every time you discard an old but still perfectly well-used device.

Nonetheless you can still bring about change. What you can do is to  ensure that no gadgets go to the dumping yard whenever it is still repairable. Even though we cannot eliminate the need of using these gadgets, we can at least put our efforts into reducing it and not buy the latest model unnecessarily.

 

Conclusion

Undeniably, almost everyone is always captivated by the features of cutting-edge technology. However, this does not mean that we should forget about its consequences. Yes, these devices help us to stay connected to the world with just a few clicks by simplifying our work.

However, at the same time, when these gadgets become obsolete, our desire for new ones arises. Whenever you feel like getting newer models, resist that temptation. After all, all of these devices are temporary but their harmful effects on this planet are permanent.