There are now more electronics in the world than ever. We live in the midst of an electronics revolution that’s helped to change how millions of people live and communicate, and it’s brought people around the world much closer. This is a time of great technological advancement.
Remember how people used to buy new clothes frequently? Now people change their electronic devices even more quickly. Once each new upgrade comes along, we toss the old gadgets away and rush out to buy a new one.
And that’s the down side of this technological age we’re in. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is being generated at a rate that the United Nations now warns is alarming.
Think about this comparison. If you’ve ever been to Paris, chances are you’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, a historic landmark that measures more than 1,000 feet high and weighs 9,700 tons. That’s a massive structure.
According to the United Nations, the amount of e-waste that got generated worldwide in 2016 did not amount to the equivalent of an Eiffel Tower. It amounted to 4,500 Eiffel Towers, a staggering amount of discarded appliances, laptops, cell phones and so many other products.
And those numbers may get dwarfed soon. The website sciencealert.com is projecting that the amount of e-waste being generated will rise by 17 percent by 2021,with North America as the third-highest waste producer per capita, behind only Australia and Europe.
And the solution to preventing this is recycling and reusing.
What is the United Reporting about E-Waste?
According to a new study by the United Nations, electronic waste rose to record 45 million tons worldwide in 2016, which is why the UN is now sounding the alarm that this problem is getting worse.
The amount of e-waste worldwide increased between 2014 and 2016 by 8 percent, according to the report by the United Nations University, the International Telecommunications Union, and the International Solid Waste Association. One of the biggest concerns is environmental.
If electronic devices don’t get recycled and end up in landfills, they contain toxins that can cause serious health problems if they get released into the soil, water or air.
And as the UN report noted, only about 20 percent of electronic devices are getting recycled now, while the other 80 percent is being discarded.
The environmental concerns are one aspect of this challenge. As the UN noted in its comparison to the Eiffel Tower, that represents a massive amount of valuable metals within the e-waste that’s being squandered. Raw materials contained in the e-waste discarded in 2016 alone was estimated to be worth $55 billion.
The UN report, known as the Global E-waste Monitor 2017, dubbed e-waste as the equivalent of “urban mines” because the valuable metals contained within them – which can be used to make new products – includes gold, silver, copper and palladium.
By recycling these products, it not only keeps the toxins out of landfills, but also allows the valuable metals within them to be used to make new products, which holds down production costs.
What Can be Done to Reverse This Trend?
When it comes to reversing those troubling numbers, there is a three-part plan. It involves all of us:
* Reducing the amount of e-waste that we discard;
* Recycle all the used electronics we no longer want;
* And enable recycling firms to reuse what we bring to them, so the valuable metals they contain can be put into new products.
If that sounds like common sense, keep in mind that not enough people are following these simple rules, which is why the UN is working to encourage more nations to invest in the promotion of strong recycling efforts.
Because a lot of the current statistics around e-Waste are definitely alarming. Currently, we generate up to 40 million tons of electronic waste each year around the world, and e-waste now makes up 70 percent of the toxic waste that’s being generated.
In addition to being sent to landfills, a lot of e-waste is also being sent to incinerators where they get burned and release harmful toxins in the air.
Among the toxins in electronics are lead — which can cause damage to our central nervous system and kidneys – and mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, chromium, and flame retardants.
One key reason why recycling is so urgently needed is that 300 million computers and 1 billion cell phones are being manufactured each year, and that production level is expected to grow by 8 percent each year.
The UN report noted that the amount of e-waste being generated will increase because of several factors, including:
* Heavy consumer demand for new products;
* Falling prices worldwide for electronics;
* Heavy advertising to encourage consumers to buy new and upgraded products, even if their current devices still work fine.
That’s why experts say stronger measures are needed to promote recycling, particularly in countries where waste-collecting methods are weak and there are no strong recycling laws.
Waste from discarded electronics is piling up across the globe, the UN warned, and if this trend continues, by 2021 the world will be cluttered with more than 52.2 million tons of this kind of waste, ranging from domestic appliances to mobile phones and computers.
If there is a silver lining in the report, it’s that a growing number of countries are adopting e-waste management policies. But more action is clearly needed.
The International Telecommunications Union has recommended that technology companies take into consideration the problems that e-waste causes when they keep promoting new versions of their products at a rapid pace.
But a better solution would be for everyone to play a part in reducing e-waste by recycling any used electronic devices they have. Instead of tossing out those products, or letting them sit in a desk, bring them to a top recycling firm like Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, where those devices can be disassembled, and the individual parts can be used to make new products.
If everyone pitches in and does their part, those recycling rates can start to rise, and with it the amount of e-waste will finally start to decrease.
The challenge that e-waste poses can be reversed through recycling and reusing unwanted electronics devices. It’s an approach that works across the globe.
Great Lakes Electronics Corporation has years of experience performing environmentally friendly recycling of all electronic products. Their team will disassemble each item into component parts, and the ones that still have value can be sold for reuse. Other parts can be used for metals recovery, and everything is recycled.
In addition, once your material arrives at one of the Great Lakes facilities, it will be inventoried, and all company identification or sensitive information will be removed and destroyed. A Certificate of Recycling will be issued for each shipment.
To learn more, call 888-392-7831 to request a quote.