On International E-Waste Day: What Exactly is E-Waste and What Can You Do About It?
Today is International E-Waste Day. If you’re wondering what on earth e-waste is and why it deserves its own special day, read on...
What is e-waste?
E-waste is the fastest-growing domestic waste stream. It encompasses all the electric or electronic products that we discard such as smartphones, laptops, printers, TVs, toys, toasters, microwaves, and more.
With the increased consumption of electric and electronic equipment, the shrinking life cycles of many of our appliances, and the limited options for repair, e-waste is piling up across the world.
According to the UN Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, we produced 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019. If you can’t really visualize what that means, picture it this way: Our annual e-waste weighs more than all the adults in Europe.
This already-alarming figure is set to almost double by 2030.
What’s the problem with e-waste?
Only 17% of the e-waste generated worldwide is properly collected, treated, and recycled. Most of what remains ends up being burned or dumped in landfills.
E-waste is bad for both our health and the environment. It contains a mixture of harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium that can find their way into our soil, water, and air.
Aside from toxins, e-waste contains non-renewable resources such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, and aluminum.
These are valuable materials that we continue to mine from the earth, causing further damage to the environment and further risks to the people involved in extracting them.
What can you do about it?
The good news is that you can be part of the solution to the growing problem of e-waste.
You can boost circularity for e-products and contribute to a more sustainable world by taking the following steps:
Reduce: Extend the lifespan of your electronics by taking good care of them. Think carefully before upgrading your smartphone or other electronic devices. Do you really need the latest new product that’s just been rolled out or is the device you have good enough?
Reuse: Next time you want to get rid of one of your devices or appliances, consider passing it on to someone else or donating it to a charity.
Repair: Try repairing your broken device (safely, of course!) or taking it to be repaired instead of replacing it.
Recycle: You know all those old devices lying around unused in your home? They’re not going anywhere unless you take them there… If there’s no way to reuse or repair them, find a responsible local organization that will recycle them.
Raise Awareness: Spread the message about the issue of e-waste by sharing this post and other relevant resources on social media.
This year’s International E-Waste Day focuses on the crucial role we each play, as consumers and citizens, in tackling the problem of e-waste.
What steps will you take to minimize your e-waste? We’d love to hear them!