The fossil generation of power and the fumes released from tech machines is certainly not the only cause of environmental pollution.
Today, the world has recorded 9.2 million metric tonnes of electronic waste (E-waste) since 2014. E-waste refers to discarded tech devices such as phones, televisions, laptops, and other tech-driven equipments.
E-waste contains chemical elements that can harm health and the environment if not handled properly. Heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium are examples of such chemical elements found in tech devices.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 44.3 metric tonnes of electronic waste might contain about 50 tonnes of mercury, whose disposal method may not have been accounted for.
With the spread of technology, only 78 countries of the world have an e-waste management strategy. The International Telecommunication Union has adopted the Connect 2030 Agenda to reinforce the global recycling rate of e-waste to 30 % and to encourage e-Waste legislation among countries to 50%.
They also aim to reduce the volume of lying e-Waste by 50% in 2023.
It has been estimated that nearly 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-Waste is discarded yearly – only 5.19 million metric tonnes were formally collected and recycled.
In 2019, 44.3 Mt of e-Waste were unaccounted for – there were either burned, discarded in landfill, traded or misused. ITU also reported that Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) contain up to 69 chemical elements present in the periodic table.
Aside from the environmental and health hazard of improper disposal of e-Waste, valuable elements such as gold, cobalt, platinum, and other base metals that could have been extracted and reused are forfeited, thereby putting pressure on primary resources.
To support this fact, it was said that 280 grams of gold could be extracted from one ton of discarded smartphones or laptops. Upon the current recycling rate of 5.19Mt, which equates to 17.4 percent, $10 billion of the raw material cost was recovered in 2019.
Moreso, e-waste recycling could create green job opportunities. One would not be wrong to say that E-waste is yet another channel of revenue creation. But the big question is, how well are we taking advantage of it?
Image Source – Sift