Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap, or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. There is a lack of consensus as to whether theterm should apply to resale, reuse, and refurbishing industries, or only to product that cannot be used for its intended purpose. Informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries maycause serious health and pollution problems, though these countries are also most likely to reuse and repair electronics. Some electronic scrap components, such as CRTs, may contain contaminants suchas lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants. Even in developed countries recycling and disposal of e-waste may involve significant risk to workers and communities and great care must betaken to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaching of material such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes. Scrap industry and USA EPA officials agree that materialsshould be managed with caution.
Today the electronic waste recycling business is in all areas of the developed world a large and rapidly consolidating business. Part of this evolutionhas involved greater diversion of electronic waste from energy-intensive downcycling processes (e.g., conventional recycling), where equipment is reverted to a raw material form. This diversion isachieved through reuse and refurbishing. The environmental and social benefits of reuse include diminished demand for new products and virgin raw materials (with their own environmental issues); largerquantities of pure water and electricity for associated manufacturing; less packaging per unit; availability of technology to wider swaths of society due to greater affordability of products; anddiminished use of landfills.
Audiovisual components, televisions, VCRs, stereo equipment, mobile phones, other handheld devices, and computer components contain valuable elements and substances suitable...
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