Despite all the advantages that the information age has brought with the irruption of technology in all spheres of modern life, one of the most pressing problems that we are going to have to face in the present and in future decades is the enormous amount of electronic or technological waste that we produce.
This type of waste is especially dangerous because, in addition to polluting, it can lead to very serious problems for the health of both people and natural ecosystems relatively quickly if it is not managed correctly.
- What’s the technological waste
- Causes of technological waste
- Main consequences of technological waste
- Release of heavy metals into ecosystems
- Soil, water and air pollution
- Diseases related to heavy metals
- Technological landfills
- Exploitation of disadvantaged communities and people
1. What is technological waste?
Technological waste is the waste produced by the disposal of electrically powered equipment.
They can be both analog and digital although, with the advent of the digital age, most of the technological waste we produce today is of this type.
However, it must be borne in mind that technological waste is not limited solely to computers or mobile phones.
When we talk about technological waste, we include everything from this type of equipment to refrigerators, air conditioners, music players or light bulbs.
Technological waste is, in short, any human-made device that, in order to be used, requires the use of electricity, either to make it work (like a computer) or to fulfill its function by supplying energy (like mobile phone batteries).
The problem of this garbage is twofold, since, in addition to being an extremely polluting garbage and very harmful to health, it is also a garbage that remains in the environment for very long times, they were able to overcome thousands of years in many cases, which influences the fact that it is so harmful.
2. Causes of technological waste
The causes of technological or electronic waste can be found in five elements that cause this type of equipment to be eliminated and end up polluting the environment and causing a very compromised public health problem.
Scheduled obsolescence is the forced expiration date of technological equipment.
This expiration date is consciously programmed by the companies producing these goods in order to force the buyer to have to acquire new equipment after a certain time after purchase.
This is a very questionable practice that, today, is legal, which means that companies that manufacture technological equipment with programmed obsolescence can abuse the consumer without any legal or economic damage.
In this other GreenEcology article we tell you more about What is Programmed Obsolescence.
In this case, we are dealing with a type of obsolescence that is even more sybilic and dangerous than programmed obsolescence, since it involves the elimination of technological equipment even before it ceases to function.
Perceived obsolescence refers to the consumer, and occurs when the consumer feels that a piece of technology equipment he or she bought should be changed because it has become outdated.
In this case, the equipment in question works perfectly and does its job without any problem.
However, thanks to marketing and advertising techniques, it is possible to create the “need” for new equipment, which does the same or incorporates superfluous changes of little importance but which is presented as a need for the simple fact of “being newer”.
In this case, the responsibility for the generation of technological waste for this cause is due to both companies and consumers.
The former for creating the false idea that it is necessary to change a product for a new one when it has become obsolete, and the latter for not being able to realize what is actually happening.
It is related to perceived obsolescence but, in this case, the objective is not directly to have a newer team, but to obtain a social image favored by the fact of having one.
All societies throughout history have had certain uses that individuals used to demonstrate their social or economic position.
Today, these uses still exist but have been modified. Nowadays, one of the most common uses when it comes to projecting a favorable social or economic position over the rest of society is to possess the most innovative technological equipment available on the market.
This generates a vicious cycle of purchase and disposal of technological equipment (especially in the case of mobile phones) that entails a very serious damage to the environment and to the person who practices it, since it tries to project a social image that will always depend on something that will not be their own person, which necessarily leads to the dissatisfaction of consumer societies that manipulate the individual at will.
On the other hand, beyond the irresponsible and questionable practices that encourage the creation of technological waste, it must also be borne in mind that one of the causes of the enormous amount of technological waste is due to the boom in this type of device.
Hypertechnologization entails the presence of technological equipment in almost any sphere of human existence and, consequently, this entails a greater amount of equipment that has to be eliminated when they cease to function.
You can continue reading at: Electronic Waste: Causes And Consequences (Part II)