On Saturday, October 3, inhabitants of Wawer once again showed their enormous involvement and environmental awareness by participating in our periodic collection of electronic waste at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Zerzeń. Despite the slowdown caused by COVID, there were plenty of people who wanted to get rid of waste equipment and batteries in a proper manner. We have collected more than 2 tons of waste equipment. Traditionally, in exchange for electronic waste and waste batteries, we distributed beautiful plants and eco-friendly bags, whereas those who visited our educational stand received brochures and leaflets with information on electronic waste and
However, despite a constantly increasing environmental awareness among society, there is still much to do with regard to how to deal with waste equipment and batteries in a proper manner. We are living in the times when due to an ever faster technological development, both electric and electronic equipment becomes waste very quickly. Not a long time ago, we only had it replaced when it was broken and could not be repaired. Nowadays, we do it definitely more frequently, whereas we are motivated not by its wear- and-tear, but by the desire to have equipment with better and better technical parameters. An average lifetime of a washing machine or a fridge is already shorter than 8 years, of a computer – 3-4 years, whereas of a cell phone merely 2 years. This results in a constant increase in the amount of waste equipment, which is classified as hazardous waste due to the content of toxic substances which easily get absorbed into the soil, air and groundwater,
thus polluting natural environment and posing a threat to health of both human beings and animals.
Obviously, it should be borne in mind that such substances are not hazardous when devices are used properly, however, they pose a threat if waste equipment and batteries are managed improperly. Furthermore, electronic waste and waste batteries are not only hazardous substances, but also a valuable source of secondary raw materials. A smartphone may contain up to 50 various metals, including so called “critical metals”, for instance tantalum and cobalt. Critical raw materials are those which are strategic from the perspective of operations and economic development of the European Union, whereas their deficit may have serious economic consequences for the entire economy. Therefore, it is so important to recycle electronic waste instead of taking it to the garbage dump or to the forest. Recycled ferrous and non-ferrous metals may be re-used as secondary raw materials. Thanks to recycling of iron and steel from waste electronic equipment, we can use resources which are already being used and reduce the negative impact on the environment of the extractive industry. Re-using copper, brass and aluminum does not lead to the quality of a raw material being lowered, whereas recycling may be repeated virtually an unlimited
number of times. Recycling of electronic waste also allows us to recover plastics, which after undergoing specialist processing processes may be used again. It is estimated that using recycled raw materials for the production of new products makes it possible to save up to 85% of the energy needed to manufacture a new product from primary raw materials. Manufacturing 1 kg of aluminum in the recycling process only consumes 10% of the energy which would be consumed to extract this metal from natural resources.
This shows how important it is to constantly educate society in how to deal with waste equipment properly, whereas periodical local collection schemes for electronic waste provide a perfect opportunity to do so. We need to remember that each of us can decide whether future generations will be able to enjoy what has been given to us by the nature.