According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, the world generated a record 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste last year. In 2014, that number was closer to 44 million, and it’s expected to grow to 74.7 million by 2030.
In stark contrast, the formal documented collection and recycling of e-waste in 2019 was 9.3 million metric tonnes — 17.4 percent of e-waste generated.
E-waste contains several toxic and hazardous substances, posing significant risks to the environment and human health. In fact, a total of 50 tonnes of mercury alone are found in globally undocumented flows of e-waste annually.
Despite the health-risks — e-waste collection sights are considered ‘urban mines.’ The value of the raw materials alone contained within the 53.6 million metric tonnes generated last year equal out to approximately 57 billion USD.
In light of these statistics, the 2020 Monitor states that it’s essential that the planet substantially increases the documented global e-waste collection and recycling rate. Here are some ways you and your business can help:
Donate Older but Still Functional Electronics
Once your electronic devices reach the end of their usefulness to you, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be valuable to others. Donated machines can help many people who don’t have the means of purchasing them new. Seeking out organizations in your community that refurbish and donate used electronics can be an excellent, environmentally-friendly and socially conscious method of recycling.
Research Responsible E-Waste Haulers
If you’re engaging a vendor to recycle your e-waste on your behalf, make sure that they’re committed to processing your old devices in a secure, sustainable and cost-effective manner. They should have some form of sustainability reporting for you to review, proper refurbishing protocol, and a certified process for destroying any residual data left over on electronic devices. Despite your best intentions, if your hauler is simply throwing your devices in a landfill at the end of the day, you’re not recycling.
Seek Out Cloud-Based Opportunities
Cloud-based data storage and computing can help you be proactive about your e-waste footprint. Not only do you need less physical storage if you’re leveraging the cloud, but you also lessen the demand on your physical drives. That means they last longer and require replacement less often. Not to mention, most businesses that switch over to cloud based-services report increased security and cost-savings.
At the end of the day, making a conscious effort to reduce electronic waste will help you and your business save money and energy, and reduce negative effects on the environment. Seems like a no-brainer!