The World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the world’s wealthiest elite in Davos, that ran from the 22nd to the 25th of January, saw a prominent theme of concern over climate change, the environment, and of the impact of electronic waste on the environment and human health. The latter issue was raised by a newly formed group known as PACE (Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy), formed by the United Nations and the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. At the forum, PACE reported that “e-waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world,” and delivered more shocking statistics, such as the fact “it is estimated this waste stream reached 48.5 million tonnes in 2018.”
What is E-Waste?
E-waste is the culmination of discarded electronic items, from microwaves to office printers to laptops. The components in many of these items contain toxic elements that pose a proven risk to human, wildlife and environmental health, including being linked to cancer, “high incidences of birth defects and infant mortality” in workers that dispose of e-waste in developing countries and much more.
The ever-increasing rise of e-waste can be attributed largely to the low manufacturing costs of many smart devices and the culture of replacing instead of repairing broken items.
Electronic waste is such a large environmental and health concern as it’s commonly sent to developing countries to be improperly dismantled and often burned. Through this disposal process, the toxic chemicals are introduced to the air, soil and water of the area, with detrimental impacts on the land and people living and working there.
There are many ways in which people can take action to reduce electronic waste. A key way that businesses and individuals can reduce e-waste (and save money) is through purchasing refurbished laptops and PCs. As well as buying refurbished, many businesses are also choosing to refurbish IT assets and cascade them back into other areas of their organisation. Replacing or upgrading your computer with a professionally refurbished model can save money, whilst ensuring quality and helping the environment.
More Ways to Reduce E-Waste
While taking steps to reduce e-waste can be as easy as using refurbished IT equipment, there are plenty of other ways to help fight the e-waste problem in conjunction with this, such as:
- Recycling batteries
- Opting to repair instead of replacing broken technology where possible
- Being sure to conform to WEEE standards of disposal when replacing household technology such as a television or fridge, or office item such as a printer
- Carefully considering your IT asset management partner to ensure you are working with a fully accredited and compliant company