Electronic waste also known as e-waste has become one of the most major components of waste material worldwide. It is used or discarded electronic devices such as home appliances like fridges, washing machines, and dryers in addition to smartphones, laptops, and TVs – which are considered to be the most hazardous electronic items out there.
It’s been predicted that every year since 2019 leading up till 2030 the generation of electronic waste will increase by 2 to 2.5 million metric tonnes. 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste was produced in 2019, only 17% of it was sustainably recycled, while the remaining 83% was thrown into landfills where it can warm up and release harmful toxins into the Earth’s atmosphere. Some harmful toxins can seep into the soil and even the groundwater causing soil and water pollution, ending up as high-risk to human health.
Source: Khaleej Times
Combating the threat of e-waste may seem like you need to go out of your way to help but it’s easy. A very simple way to start would be to read up and practice the steps from our previous blog. This not only helps extend the lifeline of your device but is cost-effective too!
How is the UAE helping?
On the other hand, locally, the UAE government is taking steps to meet its target of diverting 75 percent of municipal solid waste away from landfills as per the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021. Moreover, the Municipalities of the seven Emirates are also supporting private organizations that promote and manage proper e-waste recycling. For example, in Dubai, the world’s largest recycling plant has been built in Dubai Industrial City, in partnership with Enviroserve, a global recycling company. The plant has a capacity of processing 39,000 tonnes of e-waste per year. Similarly, an upcoming facility in Sharjah, which will convert waste to energy and recycle e-waste, is expected to divert almost 300,000 tonnes of solid waste every year from landfills.
An interesting campaign was conducted by Consistent Engineering Consultants, an MEP consultancy specializing in sustainable building and renewable energy for their Diwali celebrations. They organized an E-Waste Collection and Recycling Drive throughout their offices and sites across Dubai. In less than two weeks they were able to collect almost a tonne of e-waste!
Another such campaign was carried out by the Indian Ladies Association in Abu Dhabi. The members of this community organization conducted an e-waste collection drive spreading the word through social media. The collected mobile phones were handed over to the Emirates Environmental Group for reuse or recycling purposes.
Are the Tech Giants doing their part?
As one of the powerhouses of electronic devices, Apple has taken big steps to improve its environmental footprints. They aim to be carbon neutral by 2030 which means that each product it produces will have a net-zero impact on the environment as part of a circular economy. To achieve this goal they recycle tin, cobalt and utilize carbon-free aluminum. Secondly, as of 2018, Apple’s global facilities are 100% powered by renewable energy sources, an incredibly impressive feat that undoubtedly sets an example for other companies to follow. Finally, Apple ensures that it’s older devices receive software support and updates for many years. This means that as long as the hardware survives, you can expect your Apple device to receive updates for an extended time.
Source: E-waste Expo
Similarly, Microsoft is committing to achieve zero waste by 2030. They plan to reduce as much waste as they generate while reusing, repurposing, or recycling by building first-of-their-kind Microsoft Circular Centers. Moreover, they want to eliminate single-use plastics in their packaging and use technology to improve their waste accounting.
However, the culture of new models every year with nominal tech changes adds to the problem of e-waste. All leading consumer product companies promote the latest model culture and encourage users to update every year or 2 years leaving older devices redundant which invariably end up as e-waste. A better way is to buy pre-owned and reduce the number of new devices getting into the system and the number of old devices going out. Most of these devices are perfectly suitable for our usage if we do not let FOMO get the better of us.
Not one person or organization can solve the global waste problem. It will take all of us to do our part by minimizing our waste footprint to ensure our economies and societies around the world thrive for generations to come.