International E-Waste day – 14th October 2023
October 13, 2023
Electronic devices with a battery or plug that are no longer wanted, not functional, or obsolete are e-waste.
According to the United Nations, around 57.4 million tonnes of e-waste is generated globally every year. That’s equivalent to every single person on the planet, all 8.1 billion of us, producing more than 7Kg of electronic waste per year.
However, here in the UK we produce significantly more e-waste than the global average at 23.9kg per person per year. This makes the UK the second highest producer of e-waste in the world (behind Norway).
Of the 57.4 million tonnes of e-waste generated worldwide each year, only 17.4% is currently recycled, with the rest being lost to landfill, incineration or simply being stored in drawers, attics and garages around the world. The e-waste recycling rate in the UK is slightly higher at 31.2% but both the global and UK rates need to be significantly higher.
E-waste contains a mixture of harmful substances and precious materials. If more of it was being properly collected these materials could be prevented from causing harm to people and the natural environment, and they could be safely recycled too. Recycling reduces the need to extract ever-increasing amounts of raw materials from our limited reserves, a process which harms people and the ecosystems upon which we all depend.
E-waste day aims to halt the cycle of electrical items going to waste by making people aware of the scale of the issue and how easy it is to recycle e-waste responsibly.
To learn more about how to recycle e-waste near you, visit: https://www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk/international-e-waste-day-2023/
You could also:
1. Postpone upgrading for as long as you can
Think twice about getting your phone or other devices upgraded. Do you really need a new device to do your job or communicate effectively with others? If not, skip the upgrade and keep your existing device for as long as possible.
2. Find opportunities for reuse
If the item is still in good working order or requires only minor repairs, think about getting it repaired. The restart project may be able to offer help, and there are lots of guides and resources online too, for example the iFixit website.
Alternatively you could try selling it / trading it in, or giving it to someone else. If friends or family don’t want it, widen the pool by offering it on a sharing platform such as Olio. Keep in mind there are a number of charities that will accept and get value from old items, especially mobile phones and laptops.