Every year, 20-50 million tonnes of electronics are thrown away globally, and the amount of electronic waste is growing by 5 per cent annually.

Since 2001, Apple has released 24 generations of the iPod and seven versions of the iPhone since 2007. But Apple products aren’t the only ones being released with new features. Upgrades are constant in every facet of technology and with every brand.  Gadgets quickly become obsolete.

Products aren’t built to last, either. Providing the consumer with an affordable product often means compromising quality.

A printer is a perfect example of disposable technology. Often it is provided free or at a great discount when purchasing a computer. However, to replace the ink cartridges or repair the printer will often cost more than the machine itself.

The most upsetting part of the e-waste issue is that there isn’t a safe and efficient way to properly dispose of the unwanted products.

If the item is thrown away in the trash, it will make its way to a landfill where chemicals like lead, mercury and arsenic contained in the unit will seep into the groundwater or runoff into nearby lakes and streams.

The disposal option most often suggested is to recycle obsolete electronics through e-waste specific recycling initiatives. However, 80 per cent of the waste collected through those programs is sent overseas to China, India and Africa where people work without the proper safety equipment to extract the precious metals from the units.

To extract the copper and other precious metals from electronics, workers burn the units, sending chemicals into the atmosphere. Not only is the worker’s health affected but the environment is as well.

The developed world has been branded a throwaway society because of the ease we’ve developed at discarding. We are but a product of our environment as the products available to us are built to expire quickly. And if that’s true but can’t be helped, then we have also yet to find a way to safely and efficiently dispose of the products we’ve created, bought and thrown away.