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Technological waste: causes and consequences

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 the Future decades is the huge amount of electronic or technological waste that we produce. This type of garbage is especially dangerous, since, in addition to polluting, it can lead to very serious health problems, both for people and for natural ecosystems relatively quickly if it is not managed correctly. If you want to delve a little more into what technological garbage is, its causes and consequences , keep reading AgroCorrn and we will tell you about it.

You may also be interested in: What to do with technological waste
  1. What is the technological garbage
  2. Causes of tech junk
  3. Main consequences of technological waste

What is the technological garbage

Technological waste is the waste produced by the disposal of equipment that runs on electricity . They can be both analog and digital although, with the emergence of the digital age, most of the technological garbage that we produce today is of this type.

However, keep in mind that technological garbage is not limited to computers or mobile phones. When talking about technological garbage, this type of equipment includes refrigerators, air conditioners, music players or light bulbs. Technological waste is, in short, any device of human creation that, in order to be used, requires the use of electricity, either to function (such as a computer) or to fulfill its function by supplying energy (such as telephone batteries. mobile).

The problem of this garbage is twofold, since, in addition to being extremely polluting and very harmful to health, it is also garbage that remains in the environment for very long times, they could exceed thousands of years in many cases, which influences the fact that it is so harmful.

Causes of tech junk

The causes of technological or electronic waste are found in five elements that are the cause of this type of equipment being eliminated and ending up contaminating the environment and assuming a very compromised public health problem.

Scheduled obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is the forced expiration date of technological equipment. This expiration date is consciously programmed by the companies that produce these goods in order to force the buyer to have to acquire a new equipment after a certain time after the purchase. It 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 causing them any type of legal or economic damage.

In this other AgroCorrn article we tell you more about what is programmed obsolescence .

Perceived obsolescence

In this case, we are faced with a type of obsolescence even more sibylline and dangerous than programmed obsolescence, since it entails the elimination of technological equipment even before it stops working. Perceived obsolescence refers to the consumer, and occurs when the consumer feels that a technological equipment that he bought must 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 a new equipment, which does the same or incorporates superfluous and minor changes but is presented as a necessity for the simple fact of ” be newer “. In this case, the responsibility for the generation of technological waste due to this cause is due to both companies and consumers. The first for creating the false idea that it is necessary to change a product for a new one when it has become outdated, and the second for not being able to realize what is really happening.

Social projection

It is related to the perceived obsolescence but, in this case, the objective is not directly to have a newer equipment, but to obtain a social image favored by the fact of having it. All societies throughout history have had certain uses that individuals used to demonstrate their social or economic position.

Currently, these uses continue to exist but have been modified. Nowadays, one of the most common uses when projecting a favorable social or economic position over the rest of society is having 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 depend , always, of something that will not be his own person, which necessarily leads to the dissatisfaction of consumerist societies that manipulate the individual at will.


On the other hand, beyond the irresponsible and questionable practices that promote the creation of technological waste, it must also be taken into account that one of the causes of the huge amount of technological waste is due to the rise of this type of artifact. Hypertechnologization entails the presence of technological equipment almost in any sphere of human existence and, consequently, this entails a greater amount of equipment that has to be eliminated when it stops working.

Poor waste management

Finally, the last cause of the generation of technological waste is found in poor management of this type of waste. Despite the irresponsible practices that have been mentioned, the fact that technological devices end up breaking cannot be ignored. Even after several repairs, the situation may arise in which, indeed, the technological equipment cannot continue to be useful. In this case, the correct thing will be to take said equipment to a clean point where it can be managed as waste correctly, which will entail recycling most of its components and, above all, removing in a controlled manner those elements that may be dangerous for the environment and health and manage them appropriately.

Main consequences of technological waste

The consequences of technological or electronic waste are varied and affect many different sectors. However, below we present some of the direct consequences of the uncontrolled accumulation of said garbage and also some of those that require greater attention due to the problem, not only environmental, but also social that they entail.

Release of heavy metals in ecosystems

The most damaging consequence of the generation of technological waste that is not treated properly is the release of heavy metals and highly polluting elements into the environment. Some of these elements are mercury, lead, chromium, aluminum or cadmium among others, which, in contact with living organisms, lead to very serious diseases or even death.

Pollution on land, water and air

Another consequence of the generation of this technological waste is that the pollution spreads both to the land and to the water, as well as to the air, since, when the equipment is burned, they release many of the heavy metals already mentioned in the form of extremely toxic gases.

Heavy metal-related diseases

In relation to the release of this type of metal in any of the aforementioned media, these heavy metals enter the organism of living beings and cannot be eliminated. This is because they are metals that are not naturally present in ecosystems, so living organisms have not evolved to expel them.

In fact, these heavy metals, once they enter the body of a living organism, will remain within it for the rest of its life. In the case of humans, some of the diseases that are related to this type of toxic metal for health are Alzheimer’s and degenerative diseases of the nervous system, chronic fatigue, heart disease, dermatitis, anemia, asthma and irritation of the respiratory tract. , arthritis, osteoporosis, diseases in the endocrine system, impotence, malformations in the fetus during pregnancy, kidney failure, liver problems and even cancer.

Technological landfills

Likewise, another of the problems that the enormous generation of technological waste entails resides in the inability to manage this waste. The consequence is that this garbage accumulates in technological dumps that, in addition to contaminating the local area, carries the risk of expanding its radius of contamination in the event of a fire and toxic elements enter the air.

Exploitation of disadvantaged communities and people

Finally, another consequence of the generation of technological waste and the mismanagement of this type of waste is that activities arise that compromise communities and people from disadvantaged environments. On the one hand, it must be taken into account that the extraction of many of the metals that are used in the elaboration of technological devices are carried out in countries where the labor legislation does not protect the worker (a good example is many countries in Africa) .

Consequently, a sector arises that, although it is true that it generates work, this is carried out in dire conditions and without any type of safety in the mines. This means that many people who work in these conditions end up getting sick as a result of direct contact with this type of metal.

If you want to read more articles similar to Technological waste : causes and consequences , we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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