Electronic Waste and Recycling

Electronic waste is the trash produced by surplus, broken, and obsolete electronic devices such as refrigerators, freezers, and other cooling equipment, computers and telecommunications equipment, consumer electronic devices and solar panels, televisions, monitors and screens, LED bulbs, and vending machines. According to the United Nations' Global E-waste Monitor, 2020, worldwide 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste was generated in 2020, increasing 21% over the previous five years. Asia produced the most significant amount of electronic waste (24.9 million tonnes), followed by America (13.1 million tonnes), Europe (12 million tonnes), Africa (2.9 million tonnes), and Oceania (0.7 million tonnes). This comprises various dangerous and toxic substances and materials that contaminate rivers, lakes, and oceans and emit gases that disrupt ecosystems if not correctly disposed of.

Therefore, recovering material from outdated electronic gadgets for usage in new goods is known as electronics recycling. However, in 2019 only 17.4 % of electronic waste was collected correctly and recycled. Cadmium, lead, lead oxide, antimony, nickel, mercury, copper, tin, iron, aluminum, fossil fuels, titanium, gold, and silver, are among the most prevalent compounds in these disposed of products. Many of these materials can be recovered, reused, and recycled. According to a report published in 2019 by the magazine Environmental Science & Technology, extracting minerals from natural deposits is 13 times more expensive than recovering them from electronic waste to manufacture new devices. Recycling electronic wastes allow us to recover precious metals and other elements from devices while conserving natural resources, decreasing pollution, preserving landfill space, and generating employment. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), if these goods are properly recycled, they might produce approximately $62.5 billion in possibilities each year and create millions of new employments globally.

Fortunately, the world is gradually becoming aware of the magnitude of the situation. According to the reports by the UN, as of the end of 2019, 78 nations, accounting for 71% of the world's population, either had an electronic waste policy in place or were developing one with a 5% increase from 2017. With COVID-19 keeping people indoors, use is only increasing; without adequate control, it is predicted to reach 74 million tonnes by 2030. As a consumer, the least you can do is reduce the habit of changing the devices more often unless necessary. Producers could increase implementing regulations such as eco-design. Experts in electronic recycling advise that still functional gadgets are passed down to friends or family members or sold on the secondary market. It is also possible to donate them to specialized charity as well.