Solutions to the E-waste Problem
Nobody expects the amount of e-waste we generate to suddenly drop — in part because prices of new electronics are dropping, making them in much higher demand around the world, courtesy of a growing middle class in developing nations that’s going digital. After all, around the world half of all households have internet access, and more than 7.7 billion people have cell phones.
How can we stop the e-waste problem? The first is to keep all used electronic devices out of our trash and our landfills. The same is true for simply hoarding those devices in our closets or desk drawers, where the valuable properties within them sit unused. And there are proven solutions for reducing e-waste.
More consumers need to get into the habit of taking their used electronics to an experienced recycling firm that can disassemble them, separating and categorizing the contents by material and cleaning them, then shredding them mechanically for further sorting with advanced separation technologies.
The second most important solution is to educate people about how important recycling is for e-waste. It can begin with setting an example, making a commitment on your own to take any electronic device you have that’s no longer wanted or being used, and bring it to a recycling firm rather than throw it out with your regular trash or toss it in a desk drawer.
But then it’s also important to be vocal about that with others: to note that out of concern for our environment, you adopted the practice of recycling each device.
Writing about the environmental benefits of recycling e-waste on social media sites is also a good place to start spreading the word.
It’s important to spread that message to your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, but it’s also important to get the message to our future leaders — our children.
You could start by asking your child’s teacher if you could work on a project to have all the kids at school bring in old cell phones their parents no longer want, and teach the students how to collect the devices and get them to a recycling firm.
And it isn’t just schools that have a role to play here. Non-profit organizations, municipal governments and businesses in the private sector can also get involved in hosting community events that promote recycling and educating people about our e-waste challenge.
- Keep Learning
Just as the technology, which creates smartphones and other devices keeps changing, the same is true when it comes to e-waste. In the U.S., 25 states now have laws that aim to either prevent used electronics from being sent to landfills, or that promote recycling. The European Union has established new goals for increasing e-waste recycling rates. The United Nations has launched the Step-Initiative to introduce a comprehensive approach to handling E-Waste, while also preparing professionals to work in the field of E-Waste management.
The bottom line is a lot of actions are now being taken to provide practical solutions to e-waste problems — solutions that address environmental and health concerns, while at the same time emphasizing other issues.
Did you know that recycling e-waste helps preserve our natural resources? Did you know recycling e-waste eliminates the problem that data security poses when e-waste gets thrown away, since recycling firms can eliminate your old data from your unwanted devices?
Recycling also promotes a circular economy by making recycled metals available for new productions, which helps boost sustainability. The industry also creates jobs and provides tax revenue to our cities and states.
The more you keep educating yourself about e-waste recycling and solutions to e-waste problems, the easier it’s going to be to justify recycling these devices and helping other people understand why it’s so important.