Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business
Over the past two months, Apple, Google, and Samsung have all unveiled their latest smartphones and other devices with the goal of getting consumers to upgrade before the holidays. But in the process, these companies and others may be contributing to a growing problem: e-waste.
The e-waste problem has surged over the years due to the limited lifespan of many high-tech gadgets and few options for repairing older devices. According to United Nations data, the world generated a staggering 53.6 million tons of e-waste in 2019, of which only 17.4% was recycled.
Friday is International E-Waste Day, an annual opportunity to reflect on the impact of e-waste and do more to repair and recycle them. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEE) Forum, a Brussels-based non-profit organization that has been spearheading the occasion since 2018, said this year’s focus is on how many people, including old electronics, unintentionally He said it was about taking action on the small amount of e-waste that could accumulate. Mobile phones, headphones, remote controls, computer mice.
WEEE Forum Executive Director Pascal Leroy said in a statement, “People know that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and together represent a huge amount on a global level. They tend not to notice that they are there.
The problem of e-waste is not just about cleaning up your junk drawer space.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, large amounts of e-waste are being shipped to developing countries that lack the capacity to refuse their imports and the infrastructure to safely recycle them. The World Health Organization also warns that children with small hands are often used in developing countries to process mountains of e-waste in search of valuable elements such as copper, silver and palladium. doing. The WHO said more than 18 million children are exposed to a range of adverse health effects as they work in the informal e-waste industry.
Here are some steps you can take with the cell phones, laptops and chargers you stash at home to reduce your e-waste burden.
Find an e-waste disposal service
If you live in an area that offers e-waste disposal services (at specific collection days or locations), it’s one of the easiest and most intuitive ways to get rid of your old gadgets, experts say. .
Various coalitions have sprung up in recent years to give consumers the choice to dispose of their devices responsibly. The e-Stewards Group and Sustainable Electronics Recycling International each offer online tools to find accredited recycling centers.
The overall impact of e-waste recycling can be astonishing. For every million cell phones recycled, the EPA says he can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium.
However, not all municipalities in the United States provide infrastructure for recycling e-waste.
Please check with your retailer
If you can’t find a recycling center near you, a growing list of major retailers like Staples and Best Buy have programs that allow customers to bring their e-waste in for recycling. Also, many manufacturers, including Apple, have programs that offer credit or free recycling in exchange for trading in used gadgets. For example, Google offers the option to request free shipping labels to mail used gadgets and electronics for recycling.
Don’t rush to upgrade
Environmental advocates say the most important step in tackling the problem of ever-growing electronic waste is simply to try to use your electronic devices for as long as possible. It is
While technology makers have come under attack with tactics aimed at getting users to upgrade, policy makers have recently made it easier for consumers to repair their appliances, prompting the rise of the Right-to-Repair movement. enacted changes to encourage companies to support
Earlier this year, Apple and Samsung launched self-service repair shops to provide parts for users who want to fix their smartphones themselves. Google has likewise announced that it will offer genuine parts for his Pixel for DIY enthusiasts in its online store this year.
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