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The growing mountain of metal – what to do with e-waste?

Kelvin Wetherill - Uploaded on August 17, 2021

It's always exciting to get the latest tech device. Unpacking it and piecing it together, getting it charged up and exploring all the new features. But what happens when it breaks or becomes obsolete?

This gadget and all the things that come with it such as plugs, cords and electronic components become part of the ever-growing mountain of e-waste (electronic waste) that is becoming a serious environmental hazard.

Current research indicates that the biggest contributors to e-waste are household appliances like irons, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and fridges but things like TV's, computers, mobile phones, speakers and toys are also beginning to pile up.  

Finding ways to recycle these products are crucial to protect our environment – not just because many of these devices contain toxic substances like lead and mercury that can leach into soil and water when dumped – but because they also contain precious non-renewable resources like crystal, gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt. 

However, right now the recycling process is painstaking, often involving manual sorting of tiny components, which can be hazardous to humans. 

So, what can we do personally to lessen our impact on the growing e-waste problem?

  1. Reduce: Postpone your upgrade for as long as you can. Adopt a more minimalist approach and be mindful of whether you need new gadgets or devices. 
  2. Reuse: Try to fix broken devices to increase their lifespan. Remember to do regular clean ups and updates to ensure your devices are running to their full potential.
  3. Recycle: Look up e-waste recycling facilities near you and make the effort to take your e-waste there.
  4. Return: Contact the manufacturer and ask if they have a process for returning or recycling old products.
  5. Report: If you are serious about tackling the e-waste problem, you can join the increasing number of people putting pressure on governments and manufacturers to take more responsibility for this issue.

How can we help?