What is E-waste and What Can We Do About It
If you have a few redundant or broken electronics languishing in drawers at home, you’re not alone. The UK is one of the largest producers of household e-waste in the world and we can all be part of the solution.
E-waste (electronic waste) includes anything with plugs, cords and electronic components. Common sources of e-waste include televisions, computers, mobile phones and any type of home appliance, from air conditioners to children’s toys.
The USA is currently one of the largest producers of household e-waste in the world. When broken or unwanted electronics are dumped in landfill, toxic substances like lead and mercury can leach into soil and water.
Electronics also contain valuable non-renewable resources including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminum and cobalt. This means when we dispose of them without recycling, we are throwing away precious materials.
Recycling is a preferable option to sending valuable componentry to landfill, but it comes with its own ethical considerations. Processes are slow and inefficient, and nations are exporting the challenge to countries where labor laws and safety don’t protect those doing the meticulous and dangerous work of processing e-waste for metal and mineral extraction.
Whole computers are sent to China, Africa or India, where entire villages including children just sort components. What we need is to be manufacturing products here and keeping a better handle on where materials are within particular products. We should be designing them so they are more readily recyclable - better labelling and construction would allow componentry to be more readily reused and precious minerals, rescued from landfill.
At The EcoFairy, our goal is to help you build a more sustainable life by offering you a line of reusable products. We offer products that last and that will help you reduce the amount of plastic you use.