Why Major Companies and Governments Need to Focus on E-Waste Management

The discarding of electronic items as waste is a major problem, especially when you consider the quantity of e-waste that this ends up generating. The most recent numbers that we have for this type of thing come from 2019, and it turns out that 50 million tons of e-waste were produced in that year alone. The pandemic is likely going to increase waste production because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making us use electronics more often.

That means that we could see a 40% increase in the amount of waste produced in the current decade, something that would cause massive environmental problems if certain steps aren’t taken to make it less of an issue. According to industry insights, only about 20% of this waste would be recycled which means that the vast majority of it is going to end up in landfills and the like which is arguably the worst outcome that we could ever have gone for.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the biggest growth in e-waste is being seen in Asia. That’s because these countries are seeing a massive boost in wealth for its average citizens which is making them much more likely to produce electronic waste of a wide range of varieties. If you look at the countries with the highest production of e-waste, three of these countries are Asian, namely China, India and Japan. Taiwan is also a major producer of e-waste.

Governments really need to start tackling e-waste before the problem starts to truly get out of hand. About 12% of the total e-waste that might be produced is going to come from smartphones and the like, and when your pair this with the fact that around 80-90% of the carbon footprint of these devices comes from their manufacturing process, the rate at which we are using and disposing of these phones is far too high to be environmentally sustainable with all things having been considered and taken into account.

These smartphones use quite a bit of rare metal in order to be manufactured, and when you look at the scale at which such phones are made suffice it to say that mining this metal is something that can cause widespread damage to various ecosystems as well as the planet in general. Japan has started to take some steps to curb this such as its use of smartphone waste to create medals for the upcoming Olympics, but this is something that needs to be implemented with a great amount of care lest it end up doing more harm than good.

One step that the UK has taken might be one of the best ways to reduce e-waste, and that is granting users the legal right to repair their phones. Previously, major smartphone manufacturers such as Apple strongly discouraged their users from repairing smartphones on their own which often made it so that having it repaired was sometimes more expensive than just buying a new phone. Steps like this need to be taken, and governments have to start working on them as soon as they can.


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