Editorial

E-waste: what can business do about it?

All around the world, businesses and individuals want to make their mark on climate change to preserve the globe for future generations. Part of this is reducing how much waste we product, but the amount of electronic waste (e-waste) is stubbornly increasing: global e-waste grey by 44.4 million tonnes between 2014 and 2019, according to Statista

How can companies reduce their levels of e-waste? Learn how below.

What is e-waste?

The use and demand for electronics have grown to unprecedented levels, fuelled by new technologies and our reliance on connectivity in our personal and professional lives. All this tech can break, and when you add to this the planned obsolescence built into most devices and software – requiring us to buy a new iteration of a product every few years – we can understand why the amount of global e-waste has ballooned. 

Why is e-waste bad for the environment?

According to waste management company elytus, e-waste includes toxic materials like lithium, barium, cadmium, lead, and mercury. As well as being an eyesore, when e-waste is not recycled, these chemicals contaminate landfills or wherever they are discarded, leaching into the water supply, and polluting the land. The materials can then find their way into our food and water.

How can businesses help?

There are real brand and reputational risks presented to companies by e-waste, especially since businesses today are so reliant on electronics. This makes tackling the issue a prime concern. 

Businesses must help the world transition from a linear economy to a circular one as mining new materials for electronics is not sustainable over the long term. This can be done through recycling schemes, a good example of which would be Raspberry Pi distributor OKdo, which launched the first recycling scheme for Raspberry Pi boards.

According to Richard Curtin, OKdo’s SVP of technology, “The scheme will aim to begin the recycling of some of the 40 million Raspberry Pi’s in circulation today that are pre-loved but no longer used as new iterations like the Raspberry Pi 4 are released. Initially, this service is being rolled out across the UK, but we have plans to expand it globally by the end of 2021.” 

Businesses should also invest in devices with longer lifespans. By paying more for higher-quality tech, or purchasing second-hand devices that have been refurbished, they can ensure they have the technological capabilities to succeed, while directly doing something to combat e-waste.

Do you run a business? How are you approaching the problem of e-waste? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

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