Have you thought about what happens with your electronic gadgets after you toss them away? We live in times when fast-tech is running the show, and devices are replaced with new versions so fast, that you can barely notice. Mobile phones, laptops, toasters, lamps, fairy lights, fans, or one-time-use vapes – we discard 155,000 tonnes of electricals every year, instead of reusing or recycling them. As a result, this whole “mountain” of discarded gadgets is piled up in drawers, cabinets, or rubbish bins, creating one of the fastest growing waste streams – and a big threat to the environment and human health.
The United Nations International Telecommunication Union has set the target to raise the amount of recycled e-waste to 30%, and we are happy to make our own little step contributing to safer future for everybody. Our teams in Ratingen and Willich supported the Willich Packt’s initiative to collect e-waste for recycling and get further use of it for good deeds.
Since October, we collected old mobile ones, printer cartridges and remaining currency that is no more in use and have already handed it all over to our partners. These old electronics will now be recycled, the currency is going to be exchanged, and every single cent from this initiative will work its magic to support the Willich Christmas Wish Tree and make the wishes of children and adolescents from Willich in need come true.
How May Your Old Phone Ruin the Planet?
The problem is that your discarded mobile phone does not just litter the planet by taking up the space but they also may be not friendly to the environment, bringing serious damage. Most mobile phones, as well as some other gadgets, may contain hazardous chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, or arsenic. If we don’t recycle them properly, these may end up in our water, air, and soil.
Just over 17% of the global e-waste is properly recycled, with Europe collecting around 55%. The rest ends up in landfills, damaging the planet. And the WEEE says, by 2030, global e-waste generation will reach 74 million tonnes a year.
How to Make Use of E-Waste?
75% of all materials in your old electrical devices can be recycled. Often, there are valuable, even rare, materials that could have been recovered and reused turning into useful things like reusable accessories, plastics, precious metals for microchips and dental fillings, or hard metals which can then be used in construction, for airplanes, and a broad range of home items. Not to say about the amount of energy it can save! Let’s talk numbers: according to the Scientific American magazine, if we were to recycle the estimated 130 million phones thrown away every year only in the USA, we could potentially save enough energy to power nearly 25 000 homes for the whole year.
“If we went ahead and recycled one million laptops, too, we would save the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. Furthermore, for every million mobile phones we recycle, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. Recovering these valuable metals through recycling precludes the need for mining and processing that much new material from the Earth, thus not only conserving natural resources but preventing air and water pollution as well,”Scientific American magazine.
You Can Contribute Too!
So, what can you do? Anything with a plug, a battery or a cable can be recycled. Instead of just tossing not used electronics away, let’s find ways to give them a new life. As e-waste does not belong to the regular waste, look for the nearest collection points or special recycling bins in your town. It is better to divide your e-waste by kind, separating those needing extra handling, such as batteries. After collection points, your old devices will be sent to specialized electronics recyclers, separated, and turned into new items, or managed properly. Get free from your electronics consciously and make a difference!