The Rise of E-Waste: The Increasing Rate of E-Waste

Electrical posts on a countryside road.

5G is a term that has permeated the mainstream news as the next-generation network infrastructure that is going to change the internet game. This isn’t entirely wrong either, 5G will be a big step in wireless communications but it will also have a negative effect– the increasing rate of e-waste that coincides with such a transition. 


5G is still some dubious phrasing since it doesn’t quite mean the same thing to every carrier who will be implementing, but there are some fundamental aspects of 5G that are agreed upon.



What is 5G?

All that 5G means is Fifth Generation, as in the fifth generation of wireless communication technology. Fifth-generation is a pretty broad term and leaves room for all companies involved to approach 5G in any way they want. But regardless of how they create this fifth generation of wireless technology, the aim is the same as all other generations:


  • Increased Speed
  • Decreased Latency
  • Increased number of devices that can be connected


What makes 5G  a much more significant step than even the past generations is that 5G will be able to compete in the home internet business, which is still dominated by wired internet technology. The key to 5G isn’t because of speed alone; 4G networks are capable of hitting speeds that are on par with some of the best-wired internet options. The key to 5G is on the other two aspects–latency and device count. The latency being talked about is specifically the network latency; the amount of time it takes for the transfer of data to begin. Currently, latency within the 4G infrastructure is too high to be seriously considered as the replacement of cable or fiber-optic. But with 5G latencies, you can confidently do something like play an online video game on a wireless network without your actions being too delayed. The increase in the number of devices it can handle is necessary since people will be connecting to the network with their desktop computers, streaming boxes, and video game consoles. 


The benefits are ten-fold for this completely wireless technology. Once 5G is properly and widely implemented, new businesses and new households won’t need to worry about implementing cable or fiber optics. Neither will the carriers need to worry about laying new cabling, a costly and lengthy process. The advantages that 5G provides sound fantastic, but the aspect that isn’t getting much attention is what will happen to all the old technology?



In With The New and Out With the Old

Thanks to the annual cycle of modern consumer electronics, the rate of e-waste currently produced is up to 50 million tonnes yearly. Cell phones, tablets, computers, and televisions–lots of old technology already makes its way into landfills, and that would increase with the widespread adoption of 5G. The type of e-waste that 5G will produce will be varied. Here is some e-waste that would grow with the advent of 5G:


Smartphones– As with almost every new generation of wireless communication technology, there will have to be phones that are built to take advantage of the network. This means plenty of phones will become obsolete as 5G becomes a staple in wireless communications. This, coupled with the already short term nature of smartphones that follow an annual cycle, would greatly increase the amount of e-waste created.  


Modems- Currently, modems take in either cable or fiber optic, but with the introduction of 5G there will have to be new wireless modems that can accept the 5G wireless signal. If 5G is the home internet game-changer that it is lauded to be and is widely adopted in households, then a lot of old cable modems will be making their way to landfills.


Coaxial Cable- The most common form of data transportation to households has been the coaxial cable. Being the primary medium for both the telephone and television cable industry, the coaxial cable has served as the premier communications transportation technology for quite some time. Currently, the attempt to move to fiber optic cables for the internet has been a slow and expensive process, which secured the position of the coaxial cable within a majority of households. But with 5G no cables will be necessary. A 5G cell tower would be set up, and households with a 5G modem will be able to pick up the signal. No more cable will have to be laid down, which also means no more of the cabling currently within households will be needed. These cables will probably be tossed out as 5G begins to take over.


5G will facilitate the increase of all three types of e-waste mentioned. This could spell an environmental disaster over the next few years due to the toxic components embedded in these electronics. Electronic components have a bunch of substances that, when in use and the household are no threat at all, but when tossed into a landfill, these substances can prove toxic to the environment. The list of toxic substances contained within electronics is a long one, with cadmium, lead, chromium, and mercury being just some of these substances. 


But the increased rate of e-waste does not have to be tossed into a landfill. A large industry has emerged that takes care of and recycles e-waste. 


Great Lakes Electronics

E-waste collectors and recyclers like Great Lake Electronics ensures that all e-waste is correctly disposed of. This is incredibly important in a world where e-waste is continuously increasing, and it’s environmental impacts become more obvious. 


We don’t have to wait for 5G to come around before taking care of e-waste. E-waste is currently a problem and you can easily start reducing the amount of e-waste that makes it to landfills and threaten our environment and water systems by bringing it to Great Lakes Electronics. We will ensure that your devices are correctly recycled.


We are dedicated to our mission of providing environmentally-friendly e-waste recycling services. From computers to communication systems, we can take care of a lot of electronic equipment, all while conserving energy and reducing our environmental imprint. We will be ready to take care of even more of those needs when 5G networks are finally implemented!


To find out more, contact us or call us at 888-392-7831.