How many smartphones do you own? And how long do you keep your smartphone before replacing it? The previous two questions were asked to 500 Saudi families nearly 8 years ago, specifically in March 2013. in a questionnaire whose results were included in a thesis submitted to the Australian University of Victoria under the title: “An integrated framework for e-modeling waste management in Saudi Arabia.”
“We own two or three phones,” this is how more than 70% of Saudi families, while about 83% of them indicated that they replaced their phones within 3 years. The answers did not differ much when asked about their computers, as nearly 57% indicated that they own three computers, and 95% of those families replaced them within about 28 months.
Now, there is a question that comes to the mind of everyone, which is the fate of old and replaced mobiles and computers? For example, today, there are more than 30 million smartphone users in the Kingdom; many of them are constantly updating their phones, dispensing with the old ones; where to take them? The same question should be asked about old electrical household appliances; what is their fate?
In fact, the answer to this question will not be good since it is related to a problem that does not receive media attention. Therefore, the public opinion in the country does not have an awareness of its importance and danger, which is the problem of improper handling of electronic and electrical equipment. While this old equipment represents an imminent environmental danger, if dealt with indiscriminately, it also represents a great investment opportunity that can provide many economic benefits to the Kingdom.
Four million tons!
In the science of origins, scholars are interested in editing terms and adjusting their meanings before going into details of issues or dumping them into practical branches. From this stage, we point out that the term of the electronic and electrical equipment is usually called electronic and electrical devices that have expired and are no longer usable, which makes their owners dispense about it.
Smartphones, computers, iPad, washing machines, refrigerators, TVs, air conditioners, batteries, fingerprint devices, cameras, recorders, speakers; all of this and more is called electronic and electrical equipment waste when their useful life ends. In total, the Kingdom annually produces about 4 million tons of electronic and electrical equipment waste, according to Nasser Al-Dueb, Managing Director of the National Environmental Recycling Company “Tadweeer,” Which makes Saudi Arabia topping the Arab world in this aspect. Still, the problem is not so much in the sheer volume of that waste as it is in the way it is handled. Unfortunately, this action creates a double problem. Which exposes the environment and people to danger due to indiscriminate handling of the hazardous materials that many of these equipment wastes contain.
In the computer and television .. toxic substances!
Electronic and electrical equipment Waste contains a diverse and complex composition of elements and materials. For example, elements such as iron, aluminum, and materials like plastic and glass constitute about 80% of the weight of electronic and electrical equipment waste. At the same time, the rest usually includes precious elements such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, and dangerous and toxic materials such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, hexavalent chromium, and flame retardants, which are all Substances that pose a danger to the environment and humans.
The World Health Organization estimates that every 215 tons of computer equipment waste contain two tons of arsenic, 3 tons of mercury, and 10 tons of lead, and 40% of all lead found in landfills comes from consumer electronics. So there are about 22 harmful Substances in electronics that can pollute groundwater and pose other hazards.
In a word, this large amount of toxic and hazardous materials underscores the importance of the need to e-manage waste appropriately to avoid potential harm to the environment and people’s health. Which, such as, can cause damage to the human nervous system, blood system, and kidneys and has toxic effects on plants, animals, and microorganisms.