July 2022 Tech Upload
NEW Digital News
As of May 27th, 2022, NEW Digital Alliance is under the direction of new leadership with the resignation of Director, Kim Iversen. Iversen would like to thank you for your trust, patronage, and support in the NEW Digital Alliance’s efforts to solve the digital and IT talent gap in Northeast Wisconsin over the last five years. Her position as Director has not yet been filled. If you have comments or questions, please email NEW Digital Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Report: Annual E-Waste Outweighs the Great Wall of China
By: Sadoff E-Recycling & Data Destruction
Measuring 13,171 miles, the Great Wall of China is estimated to be the heaviest artificial object on Earth. Yet even the weight of this enormous structure has now been surpassed by the amount of global e-waste produced annually. Per a staggering report from the Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Forum, over 57.4 million metric tons of e-waste was produced in 2021.
The WEEE Forum report predicts e-waste production totaling 74 million metric tons by 2030, with a trend of 3 to 4% growth annually. The report—released in concordance with International E-Waste Day—cited a 3% annual, global increase in electronics consumption as an explanation for this trend. Further, the WEEE Forum’s study of European electronics consumption habits revealed, “11 of 72 electronic items in an average household are no longer in use or are broken.”
The Impact of E-Waste
What’s so bad about this increasing amount of e-waste? In short, improper disposal. A mere 17.4% of global e-waste was properly treated and recycled in 2019, per the WEEE Forum’s most recent statistics. That leaves the vast majority to be either thrown in landfills or (illegally) exported to countries with more lenient, or even nonexistent laws regarding e-waste.
This range of problems results from improper disposal, foremost being environmental damage. Inadequate e-waste disposal initiates a series of setbacks to the planet, which ultimately affect people.
- Extraction of rare materials—Not only does electronics manufacturing threaten to strip land of finite resources such as minerals and precious metals, but the mining process itself is a pollutant. Per Mongabay, “Mineral extraction consumes gigantic quantities of fresh water and can pollute soil, water and air, while vast open-pit mines drive large-scale land-use change, cause deforestation and threaten biodiversity. Mining, processing, and transporting minerals also uses enormous amounts of energy, generating greenhouse gas emissions.”
- Decomposition of electronics—Electronic equipment that reached end-of-life is often carelessly thrown away, destined for a landfill. There, the decomposition of e-waste leads to toxic chemicals seeping into the soil and water supply.
- Do-it-yourself component retrieval—When makeshift operations in developing countries attempt to extract valuable components from e-waste, the results can be dreadful for the environment and for the people who perform the task. The Geneva Environment Network cites open-air burning and acid baths among the crude component recovery tactics, practices which can “expose workers to high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, beryllium, thallium, cadmium and arsenic, and also brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polychlorinated biphenyls, which can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage and diminished IQs.”
Read the rest of the blog here!
Want to learn about the science behind e-recycling? Read more on the impactful processes in the e-recycling journey and the science behind them, including the toxic results of improper e-recycling activities, by reading our blog post here!