The world generates more than 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste every year. Of this, only 17% of it is recycled properly. That means 83% of it eventually ends up in landfills, slowly but surely damaging our planet.
As technology advances and we continue to get rid of our old devices and equipment in favor of new ones, the amount of e-waste we create will increase. Global e-waste production will reach 120 metric tonnes by 2050 if current trends continue. It is expected that Canada, the US, and Europe alone will reach 9.25 million tonnes of e-waste by 2025.
The E-waste Challenge
E-waste is created when electronic devices are discarded. This can include anything from old computers and cell phones to TV’s, gaming consoles, lamps, microwaves, kettles, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, toasters, and the list goes on. These items end up in landfills, where they contaminate the soil and water.
Research suggests that many people hoard certain old electronic devices and items instead of recycling them. For example, there are approximately 16 Billion mobile phones in the world, and in Europe, almost a third of them are no longer in use. These devices contain important metals that could be re-used to produce new electronic devices or equipment such as solar panels or electric car batteries.
The problem with e-waste is that it’s challenging to recycle. A lot of times, the valuable materials that are inside our electronic devices—like gold, silver, and copper—are extracted and then sold. The rest of the device is then thrown away.
What Makes E-waste So Dangerous?
Improper disposal of e-waste is a major part of the problem. The toxins in e-waste such as lead and mercury can leach into the environment and contaminate soil and water supplies. They can harm human health if ingested or if they come into contact with the skin. The toxins can accumulate in the body over the years and cause severe issues. Besides harming flora and fauna, toxins in e-waste can also pass on to people through food. They can lead to hormonal issues, disruption in early childhood development, and increase the risk of cancer.
This is why it is vital to minimize e-waste generation across the world. The UN Environment Programme, Global Environment Facility, and other organizations are teaming up to find possible solutions to the e-waste problem. As individuals, we can try to extend the life of the electronic items we use, rather than being so quite to dispose of them. We can also ensure that when we do dispose of such items, that we take them to an appropriate facility.
At BSC Solutions Group, we ensure that all used computer equipment that is returned to us after replacement, is taken to a local recycling facility for proper handling.