The international E-waste day happens for the second time on October 14. Its major aim is to reduce the overall burden of electronic waste on the environment in order to save the limited natural resources. For the second time, the initiative has been backed by more than 100 organizations from 44 countries to promote the recycling of e-waste.
Given how fast the world has evolved in the electronic products area, it is no shock that fifty million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated annually throughout the globe. The world today depends on electronic devices in all aspects of life. However, what people fail to realize is that not much is being done to recycle the e-waste generated as a result. It is the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. The problem at hand is that most countries have no idea how to handle such large amounts of e-waste. For instance, in 2016 only 20 per cent of electronic waste was recycled globally.
Importance of International E-waste Day
The major aim of the E-waste day as mentioned before is to increase the recycling rate of electronic products. It does so by highlighting how people are busy collecting devices but completely ignore the consequences after they dispose off them. There is not enough infrastructure for processing waste or safely recovering used materials. This has led to a shortage of facilities where e-waste can be managed safely. Instead, e-waste is mixed with residual waste, where it is often incinerated, placed in a landfill, or exported to developing countries. E-waste exporters generally choose destinations lacking effective legislation that regulates how e-waste should be handled.
In such countries, there are no hard and fast rules as to how to handle e-waste. This leads to severe health problems due to the ways E-waste is handled. Since there are several toxic elements in electronic products the E-waste becomes threatening to human health as well as environment.
TCO and E-waste
TCO has come up with solutions in order to avoid this hazard. They have a circular approach to the production and consumption of IT products. Consequently, if products are made more durable, repairable and upgradeable as well as recyclable, a lot of resources can be saved.
“There is not one big solution to this problem — it’s all about taking many small steps in the right direction. For example, with TCO Certified, generation 8, the use of hazardous substances in IT products is reduced or eliminated, to enable recycling of materials when the product has reached the end of its usable life,” says Andreas Rehn, Development Manager at TCO Development, the organization behind TCO Certified.
“TCO Certified also requires that important spare parts are made available and that batteries are replaceable so we don’t have to discard products just because the battery has lost its capacity.”
What can be done at an individual level
- Use your products for as long as possible. This is the single most effective thing you can do to minimize e-waste and the negative effects on our planet.
- Choose products that are designed to enable a more circular model and can live multiple lives by being repaired, upgraded and refurbished.
- Consider if someone else might find the product useful when you no longer use it. Sell it or donate to charity.
- Make sure the product is recycled in a safe and responsible way at the end of its usable life.