What Can We Do To Reduce E-waste?
Did you know e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream around the globe and as such has been defined as a “tsunami” by the UN?
Globally, only 20% of e-waste is documented, collected, and recycled, the remaining 80% is disposed of as household waste, dumped in landfills, traded, or recycled by the informal sector in poor and hazardous working conditions
We’re producing more and more e-waste every year. As we embrace every latest gadget, gizmo, and must-have device that comes along, we leave a trail of leftover electronic scrap.
Thankfully, there’s a lot we could do to address e-waste that doesn’t require us to return to a simpler time without screens and chips.
What is e-waste?
Short for electronic waste, e-waste refers to the scrap and junk leftover from a society that tends to throw out their old phone when a new model is released. While small devices such as phones and tablets are the key culprits, larger tech equipment like server racks and computerised industrial machinery counts too.
The amount of landfill waste we produce has always been a talking point in environmental circles, and e-waste is a growing concern that’s rapidly climbing the priority list.
The last decade has seen a staggering rise in global e-waste. It’s predicted that by 2030, we’ll be producing almost 75 million tonnes of it per year - in contrast, there were just under 54 million tonnes generated in 2019. To give you a rough idea of scale, that’s the equivalent of 500,000 adult blue whales, or 750 aircraft carriers.
In other words, it’s way too much.
What needs to change?
Make devices that last... Planned obsolescence is a huge contributor to global e-waste generation. In the simplest terms, it’s the practice of manufacturing devices that are designed to be obsolete within a short time frame (incentivising consumers to purchase the latest device).
You’ve probably heard people reminisce about days gone by, joking that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”. But the thing is, they don’t.
A recent European Environmental Agency (EEA) report exposed that four categories of electronic goods (smartphones, TVs, washing machines, and vacuums) found that they had shortened lifespans by design.
Not only is it unfair to the consumer, this practice has a huge environmental impact. Using smartphones as an example, every new device requires 16 of 17 rare-earth metals to produce, and will emit almost 80% of its total carbon footprint during manufacturing.
Rare-earth metals are incredibly environmentally damaging to obtain. Smartphones are replaced on average every 2 years. Shortening this cycle with longer-lasting devices would drastically reduce the emissions and e-waste generated from global smartphone use (the same applies to all devices, of course).
What is Doji doing to help?
Doji is on a mission to become the most convenient and competitively priced marketplace for used tech products. Built on the proven stock exchange model, our platform gives users a frictionless buying experience with none of the hassle associated with traditional marketplaces for used goods.
At its core, Doji has built a purpose driven business model utilising the circular economy system as a guiding framework for e-waste management. We continue to raise environmental awareness within our stakeholders and encourage them to adopt a lifestyle of “value over new”.
We are thankful to our growing number of institutional partners who recycle and provide high-quality products at great value, giving our customers the possibility to make the change they want to see in the world by giving a 2nd chance to used tech goods helping to reduce toxic e-waste and the release of carbon emissions into our atmosphere.
How can you help?
If you’re worried about e-waste and its impact on the environment, here’s what you need to do:
Recycle more electronics (and do it sustainably).
As we said, only 15-20% of global e-waste is recycled. “Do more recycling” is the obvious solution. The amount of recycling we do (or don’t do) is only half the battle though. We need to make sure e-waste recycling doesn’t create more climate problems than it solves.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing number of local, sustainable e-recycling facilities in many countries. Governments could help reduce e-waste by encouraging growth in this blossoming sector. As consumers we can support it easily, by taking our personal e-waste only to sustainable e-recycling centres.
Organisations like Recycle Your Electricals are leading the way to ensure that the valuable materials in our electricals are not wasted. They are a not-for-profit campaign inspiring and making it easier to reuse and recycle our electricals. Their Recycling Locator has over 22,000 donation and recycling points across the UK, helping to connect the UK to their local drop-off points. To learn more, visit their website here.
Refurbish old devices.
There are many devices on e-waste scrap heaps that would have lasted much longer with a little TLC. Refurbished devices, especially smaller goods like smartphones and tablets, provide good-as-new functionality with manufacturing impact.
And, of course, every refurbished device is one less bit of electronic waste. As we move towards a more environmentally-conscious future wherein we keep our personal carbon footprint as low as possible, buying refurbished tech over new should become the standard.
The e-waste problem is spiralling because we’ve been treating our electronic devices as ‘disposable’ for far too long. More consumers purchasing refurbished tech means less e-waste in landfills, and a shift towards longer, sustainable lifecycles for electronics.
Where do we go from here in the fight against e-waste?
As a global society, we still have a lot of changes to make. That’s what events like the COP26 are all about. Will the changes be impactful and lasting? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, there’s plenty we can be doing as individuals to tackle the e-waste problem. Education and conversation are the most important tools at our disposal. The more people are aware of e-waste, the more it’ll be treated as a climate-change priority akin to air travel, fossil fuels, or agriculture.
Ensuring we’re correctly recycling our personal e-waste is also important. Taking our old devices to dedicated e-recycling centres (instead of just chucking it in the blue bin) is vital. If there aren’t any local to you then write to your MP or council and demand to know why.
And, of course, the big personal change is to break out of our personal ‘disposable tech’ habits. This means repairing wherever possible and asking the question “do I really need the latest model”? You can expand the lifecycle of all devices and contribute to a circular economy by buying on the refurbished market.
At Doji, our refurbished smartphones offer good-as-new functionality without the environmental impact of a newly manufactured device. We allow waste conscious consumers to enjoy the latest devices without contributing to the global e-waste problem.
Next time you need a new smartphone, make the sustainable, e-waste free choice.
Get it on Doji and from the 22nd April Doji you'll be making even more of a positive environmental impact with every purchase! You won’t only be directly contributing to a reduction in global e-waste, you’ll be helping to support the lungs of our planet by preserving trees in the rainforest with One Tribe. One Tribe partners with businesses to help with rainforest protection. It connects us, and you, directly to charities that help protect the rainforests and the indigenous tribes that live there. These charities fund projects to help protect the land and save it for future generations.