Can We Fix The Massive E-Waste Problem?
With a host of new phones designed and produced every year in the market, a lot of old phones end up in a drawer or a closet or box, or worse, many a times phones end up in landfills. Nowadays every tech company is trying to sell their product as environmentally responsible. But that doesn’t stop these companies from coming out with a bunch of new phones every year. This increase in production is responsible for the increase in e-waste.
Because of rapid development in technology even a two-year-old handset seems like a decade old! Almost every year each tech giant comes up with phones of varying capacities. Right from the superficial look to overall functioning, everything is different in each device. And this is the main reason why many change their phone almost every two years. In 2019, nearly 153 million smartphones were sold in North America alone, the average time period of users was about two years.
But with the advent of 5G technology, this period is likely to drop drastically as folks will upgrade to 5G capable phones. This will only increase the e-waste. Even many tech giants have publicly accepted that they don’t have the technology to recycle the discarded pieces. Moreover, many of them no longer use screws in the manufacturing phones, rather glue is used. But glue will only make things worse as glue makes things hard to be taken apart.
In 2019, about 6.9 million metric tons of e-waste was generated in the United States alone. That’s about the same weight as nineteen Empire State buildings, somewhat overwhelming, isn’t it? The horrifying part is, of that 6.5 million only about 15% of e-waste was collected for recycling. This leaves about 5 million metric tons of e-waste unattended!!
Electronic devices not only contain valuable materials but also contain toxic waste. All the arsenic, lead, beryllium, and other hazardous materials that electronic waste contains should be kept out of landfills, rivers, lakes, etc. But all these are being dumped anywhere which increase pollution.
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