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Mainstreaming e-waste recycling for a safer planet

e-waste - climateaction

Mainstreaming e-waste recycling for a safer planet

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an upward trend in e-waste generation.

Every day, people buy phones, tablets, and laptops, discarding the old ones and adding to the growing e-waste stream. In 2019 alone, the amount of e-waste had increased by 21% from 2014 according to UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020.

Globally, technology is becoming the fastest growing solid waste stream in the world. However, only a very low percentage of all the e-waste that is being generated actually gets recycled. The rest of the waste either find their way to landfills or is exported to developing countries.

Hardly a day goes by without you seeing recycling bins for plastics but why isn’t e-waste getting the same recycling mainstreaming as other wastes when it poses an even greater threat to the environment?

You see, electronic waste consists of metals and chemicals like lead, lithium, mercury, and arsenic. When e-waste finds its way into landfills, these toxic substances seep into the ground.

Now, here’s the dangerous part. Unlike organic materials like food scraps, leaves and animals, e-waste does not decompose.

This means the earth is unable to naturally absorb the chemicals and metals in these electronic devices. Tragic.

How can we salvage the situation and get the world to adopt recycling? The thing is, beyond the hazardous effects of these metals and substances on our health and the ecosystem, these components are natural resources.

Glass, steel, copper, plastic, aluminum, gold, silver, and palladium are all finite resources which means we need to recycle more to make up for the depleted natural resources. This makes a strong case for a circular economy which is critical for driving sustainability.

Manufacturers can incentivize to make the repair, reuse, and recycling of hardware profitable. They can also put systems in place that ensure that their supply chains adhere to the concept so that there isn’t resources depletion.

To their credit, some manufacturers give discounts to people who trade in their old device to get a new phone while some offer money for second-hand devices. They can still do more.

Beyond the manufacturers, people need to start seeing e-waste as a form of hazardous waste so that it is properly disposed of and recycled for a safer planet.

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