We are a technology-loving society. Recently, it has been spending a lot of money to upgrade next-generation 5G devices with promises of speed and efficiency. One of the things we rarely take into account when planning our improvements is their environmental costs – consumption inevitably creates waste. The problems of electronic waste (e-waste) of technology are wide, and there is a gap in consumer knowledge that makes it difficult to solve the problem of electronic waste.
Effects of Electronic Waste
Personal technology is widespread in our lives. We consider these items primarily computers and telephones, but include devices such as smart watches, digital children’s toys, home appliances, cars, etc., with an Internet connection and data transfer capabilities.
Since 2018, the number of technology consumers in Europe and North America with 3 or more devices has steadily increased with similar increases worldwide. Also, since 2018, the number of people with 6 or more devices has increased by 56%.
When you replace existing technology products with newer versions, the previous element should go away. We improve for a variety of reasons – being modern with our peers, intersecting with other technologies, job requirements – and producing a lot of e-waste over a long period of time when we move to work.
Today, 31% of consumers either throw away old electronics with household waste or mix them with recyclable items such as metal and plastic. It is estimated that by 2030 we will produce 74 million tons of electronic waste annually.
Disposal of electronic waste
Electronic devices are made of a mixture of complex materials containing gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium, lithium, cobalt and other valuable elements.
Electronic devices also contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium; and beryllium; contaminant PVC plastic; and hazardous chemicals such as bromine flame retardants that can harm human health and the environment. E-waste accounts for only 2% of landfill waste, but accounts for two-thirds of heavy metal toxins, making it one of the main contributors to toxic leaching. These metals decompose in the soil, releasing harmful gases that are harmful to humans and the environment.
Recycling of electronic waste is not always easy. Unlike conventional recycling, special services are often required. One such company is ERI, which processes millions of pounds of electronic waste every year. Pallets are full of smartphones and tablets and other unloved personal technology devices. Workers remove hazardous components such as lithium-ion batteries and other elements. The constantly moving conveyor belt feeds the waste into a machine that breaks it into piles of copper, aluminum and steel.
Among other services, ERI is designed to manage the full disposal of retired electronic and IT assets, ensure data destruction, maximize asset recovery, minimize fines and penalties, ensure full compliance with legislation, and meet or exceed corporate requirements. offers end-to-end software. risk management requirements.
This is not the time when many of us were born, when owning a technological device was avant-garde.
We live in a time of planned obsolescence, when the iPhone we buy today will not be able to meet our lifestyle needs for several years. Most smartphone batteries can’t be easily replaced when charging stops, new laptops don’t accept old cables, and software companies are pushing for improvements that won’t work on older devices.
Improvements to 5G wireless technology have resulted in a particularly dramatic increase in e-waste, as millions of smartphones, modems and other gadgets that are not compatible with 5G networks have become obsolete. Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit, said, “Today’s products don’t last as long as they used to, and it’s a strategy for manufacturers to force us into shorter and shorter development cycles.” Time.
Hold Companies Responsible
In some states in Europe and Canada, and in some states in the United States, legislators have enacted Extended Producer Responsibility laws that require manufacturers to set up and finance systems for recycling or collecting obsolete products. This is a concept in which producers and importers have a significant responsibility for the environmental impact of their products over the life of the product, including the high impacts on the choice of materials for products, and the impact of the production process itself. , and effects after product use and disposal. Manufacturers assume their responsibilities when designing their products to minimize the impact of the life cycle on the environment and when they assume legal, physical or socio-economic liability for environmental impacts that cannot be eliminated by design.
To date, 25 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to recycle electronics. Several other states have proposed legislation in the past or are considering such legislation. With the exception of California and Utah, all states use the Manufacturer Responsibility approach, in which manufacturers pay for recycling costs. Promoting such accountability is the Institute of Product Management, a nonprofit policy advocate and consultant that empowers emerging economies to ensure that products are managed responsibly from design to end of life.
Electronic Waste Reduction Solutions
For a long time, the United States or other Western countries have been exporting electronic waste. This was a way of following the “out of sight, out of mind” parable. However, recycling e-waste is not the answer; is to pass the problem on instead of creating a sustainable solution.
How can we reduce e-waste?
- Device designers can invest in R&D, which will produce stronger recycled materials to reduce the production of their electronic waste. They may contain less toxic material. Both will appeal to environmentally friendly consumers.
- Manufacturers can focus more on the recovery and reuse of materials from waste products and wastes, which have economic and environmental significance – a process called urban mining.
- Companies may reconsider their approach to repairing old devices. A quarter of consumers say they first try to repair products.
- Employers can be sure that the technological equipment they supply meets the needs of employees in the first place, so that employees do not have to buy their own specialized equipment.
- Consumers can donate old products to local schools or charities and see if any vulnerable people need the equipment. Such recycling is really important instead of disposing of careless waste.
Companies that make philosophical decisions to prolong the life of a product while maintaining a profit margin must create a cultural change for today’s consumers. This is likely to cost more money to be transferred to consumers.
For example, the recycling of proper or official electronic waste is complex. This usually involves disassembling the electronics, separating the contents according to the material, and classifying and cleaning them. The products are then mechanically shredded for further sorting with advanced separation technologies.
An example of such a process is Apple’s Daisy robot, a recycling robot for smartphones that can split 200 iPhones per hour. Apple said that in 2018, when Daisy was introduced, it removed 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills.
Daisy is the starting point for millions of tons of electronic waste generated globally.
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