As a planet, we generated 54m tons of ‘e-waste’ across 2019, from fatigued fridges to knackered old phones. That’s up 21% in five years. 7.3kg of digital junk from every man, woman and child across the globe. All this is according to a new report by the UN, which concludes that e-waste is growing faster than the world’s population. Worse still, of all the e-waste in 2019, only 17% was recycled.
So what’s behind all this? We live in a world where almost every aspect of our life is ruled by tech. In the case of mobile phones, as each new season approaches, a new model is born. Faster, sexier, and more powerful than ever before… or so we’re led to believe. If we do nothing, research suggests the amount of e-waste will more than double by 2050, reaching 120 tons annually.
But, it’s not just about the environmental impact of old phones, it’s the current cycle of new phones that we need to combat, too. Approximately 1.48bn smartphones were made in 2019… that’s not sustainable.
Why is e-waste a growing issue?
Now we don’t know a great deal about fridge freezers or microwaves, but we do know about mobile phones. And we know that right now, recycling phones or buying refurbished phones is the answer to old devices being exiled to landfill.
40 million unused gadgets. Not the title of the new John Grisham thriller… but the amount of devices found in the depths of UK households. The study by the Royal Society of Chemistry also found that 45% of people had five unused devices, with 82% having no plans to recycle or sell their abandoned tech. The importance of buying and selling refurbished phones in the fight against climate change can’t be overstated, and we need to start now.
What’s being done around the world to control e-waste?
Brands and governments are taking note of how severe the issue is. Samsung, for example, are collecting and recycling old, unwanted or non-working electronic products in the U.S. While the UN E-Waste Coalition are calling for an overhaul of the current electronics system, emphasising the need for a circular economy. One where existing devices are refurbished and reused to keep the materials in circulation at their highest value for the longest time.
How can you make a difference?
In a nutshell: get involved with the circular economy. Buying a refurbished phone is a great place to start, as well as swapping your old mobile phone. Ultimately, recycling tech will help reduce the amount of e-waste the planet deals with. Plus, you’ll be able to save yourself a bit of cash if you buy a refurbished phone, or make a little bit of money if you sell an old device. Handy.
Looking for a refurbished phone, or fancy selling an old one? Try reboxed
Our mission is to make it safer, smarter, and more sustainable to shop for pre-owned and refurbished tech. We’re looking at rehoming 100 million devices by 2030. To do that, we need to make buying and selling second hand phones easy – so that’s what we’ve done.
Rehoming more devices means extending the lifecycle of products, which in turn reduces the environmental impact of e-waste. And, by extending the life of the device you own – aided by refurbishment, maintenance, and reuse – you can have a hugely beneficial effect on the environment.
Image Credit: Mark A Phillips