Tech Devices are Increasing in Numbers and So is the World’s E-Waste
By 2025, there will be 75 billion connected devices in the world—this includes smart watches, phones, computers, and even slow cookers.
While it’s inspiring to see just how far technology has come since the early days of its inception; It is also important to note that with every discarded tech device means an additional item towards the worsening E-waste issue.
Photo by @Sahand Babali on Unsplash
In 2016 49 million tons of E-waste was discarded. If you take into account that most E-waste is not recyclable. Some E-waste can be recycled for its valuable metals such as gold, and silver.
Why can’t it be recycled?
Most E-waste can’t be recycled because a lot of it contains toxic components that are dangerous to human health, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium and lithium.
“According to the UN, in 2021 each person on the planet will produce on average 7.6 kg of e-waste, meaning that a massive 57.4 million tons will be generated worldwide. Only 17.4% of this electronic waste, containing a mixture of harmful substances and precious materials, will be recorded as being properly collected, treated and recycled.”
In the United States, 50-70% of the nation’s E-waste is collected and shipped off to areas in Asia and West Africa. Making them one of the biggest nations to ship out their produced electronic waste.
To reiterate, this waste often can’t be recycled, and instead, accumulates in the environment, in the soil, air, water and living things. One way to discard the waste is through a process called “open-air burning” or “acid baths.” Typically during these processes, toxic materials are exposed to the environment. Also, the workers who have to execute these processes are put at risk by the high levels of contaminants such as; mercury, beryllium, thallium, cadmium and arsenic, and also brominated flame retardants, which all lead to consequential health effects.
So how can I play my part?
It’s easy to feel like you are useless in playing the part of making a difference. However, there are things you can do to lessen the blow that is caused by E-waste production. You can extend your electronics life. For instance, once a new phone comes out two years after you have just purchased your own, don’t give in to buying the newest one. If you do find that you want a new phone, be sure to donate it to a social program so that others can utilize it after you have—extending its life.
Be sure to check your state’s laws regarding E-waste and battery disposal. Some states have E-waste recycling centers where you can bring old electronics to possibly be recycled.
Next time you find yourself wanting the newest, hottest device, perhaps think twice before you consume.