What the Future Holds for the Issue of E-waste

The issue of planned obsolescence leading to toxic waste today seems to be in between the realizing the cost of progress and the gradual decline stage in regards to the attention issue cycle. However it is a unique environmental issue because the world is in a state where new technology is constantly coming out and people are becoming more and more dependent on technology. Because of this technological dependency and rapid advances in technology it difficult to predict where the issue of e-waste falls in the attention issue cycle because e-waste will be more prolific with new technology.

Keeping the stage e-waste is in mind, one must examine how the future of e-waste is reported. In order to eliminate the possibility of e-waste entering the post-problem stage soon, the media are reporting in a way that seems to recruit citizens and companies to take action and motivates this action through communicating the extreme risks if citizens don’t take action to fix it.

Although it is an older article, the Environmental Update report on Electronic Waste: A new Challenge For A New Millennium tells readers that even if they won’t directly see the effects of e-waste, the next generation will. Meaning that their children and grandchildren will be ”buried under mountains of discarded computers, computer monitors, and televisions.” This quote implies that if humans don’t want to put their loved ones at major risk in the future, then the e-waste issue needs to be addressed and fixed now, tapping into peoples emotions in hope of bringing about change.

The actual harmful effects in the future, however, seem to be a bit complex in the eyes of the media, because it is always hard to predict what will happen. If it’s too difficult to predict then perhaps it shouldn’t be predicted. As we have seen in other environmental issues, like global warming, conflicting information is likely to cause confusion among citizens and have an end result of the post-problem stage.

The Bizcovering article Electronic Waste and Its Effects ends saying, “If we don’t stop it, our world will be in danger and we will run out of mineral reserves.” This the only main harm of e-waste that this article mentions, perhaps because it is from a business journal and this is what readers of this website are interested in. However, it’s human nature to be concerned about self and one’s own health so by this article not reporting on the effects e-waste has on human’s health, a reader may be skewed to believe that e-waste will only affect the mineral reserves and therefore not care as much about the topic.

The Future Directions article on the website e-waste, however, covers multiple areas of concern if e-waste continues. It also explains in more detail how and what about e-waste causes environmental problems rather then just stating that it will. The article describes that the toxins in e-waste affect both humans and the environment, and explains what it is exactly that is in e-waste that is harmful.

The article further makes the profound statement that recycling may not be the answer. This statement arises many questions since in all of the previous articles examined, implementing a recycling program seemed to be the main answer to decreasing e-waste in the future. A message like this most likely leaves consumers, the government, and manufacturers in a state of confusion as to what the right approach is for overcoming e-waste.

It would be helpful for readers of this article if the author expanded on this idea rather than ending the article on this note. This shows either a lack of information on the topic, or perhaps that it was more of an opinion of the author due to their lack of support to back up the statement made.

Researching the future of e-waste has posed to be quite difficult, most likely because it is hard to predict the future of any environmental issue. However, the article from Pr-inside.com titled Global E-waste Crisis is Worsening, but the Tide Will Turn in 2015, Says Pike Research has seemed to be the most informative on clearly estimating what the future of e-waste will look like based on research.

Although a reader should be aware that any type of research with a prediction as its conclusion will most likely not be 100% accurate, it is a start to tackling e-waste’s future issues. The research conducted showed that “…the e-waste crisis will worsen over the next several years until 2015, when volume will peak at 73 million metric tons.  However, the firm forecasts that global volumes will decline in 2016 and beyond, as a number of key e-waste initiatives begin to turn the tide.”

That statement gives people a sense of hope even though things will have to get worse until they get better. Such a bold prediction also poses as a problem however.   This optimism that global volumes will decline in 2016 may lead readers to think that they do not need to change their ways if it will just get better seemingly on its own.

The article addresses this potential issue of people not needing to change by saying that the, “Key weapons in the war against e-waste include government regulation, electronics industry initiatives, and consumer awareness.” Making readers realize that actual action needs to take place if we want the prediction of a decline in 2016 to actually become a reality. It later discusses that that it is easy for consumers to neglect the issue due to holes in the electronic recycling supply chain, and by making consumers realize this the idea of a necessity for action and awareness becomes much clearer to readers who may believe it is not their responsibility to fix the issue.

Addressing a prediction of the future and how to achieve it makes it easier for people to take action better than an article that makes simple statements about how e-waste will harm the world and fails to give a timeline of what the future holds.

The future of e-waste is up for debate. However, when the media creates a visual timeline, presents actions that need to occur, and reveals what e-waste actually harms, readers are able to understand the issue more deeply and think about starting to make changes now so that the future can look brighter then predicted. The end result of doing this will hopefully keep the issue of e-waste in the current attention issue stage rather than allowing it to fall in to the post-problem stage.



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