Black Friday 2019 was the heat of tech sales. Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) Pre-Black Friday Week Survey was carried out in the US where incredible percentages of the US population planning on buying technology during the sales.
Out of 49% of the US population that planned on shopping during Black Friday, 82% of them planned to buy technological devices and accessories including wireless earbuds, mobile devices and cases, video games, portable chargers and streaming services (examples Netflix and Spotify) (Cassagnol & Anandwala, 2019).
But what happens to all the old technology that these purchases are replacing? In 2018, is estimated that 50 million tonnes of electronic waste was generated globally where half of this was made up of personal tech devices. Along with this only about 20% of this waste is recycled, the remaining 40 million tonnes end up in landfills, are incinerated or illegally exported from the country to developing countries despite that 66% of the world population is covered by the e-waste legislation. (Daly, 2019)
Since the 5th of December 2019, 97 countries have banned the movement of toxic waste between developed and developing countries. This includes e-waste as they contain toxic substances such as liquid crystal, mercury and lead. (Smith, 2019)
The International Telecommunications Union predicted only 20% of electronics have been recycled since 2017 globally. Valuable materials such as gold and iron are lost, and overall a loss of $55 billion. Toxins from e-waste can end up contaminating water supplies. For example, 82% of children in Guiyu have lead levels of over 100, which is considered unsafe. Water supplies are short due to contamination. The ozone layer around the earth is also damaged with an estimation of 4,400 tonnes of depleting ozone toxins that can enter the atmosphere (Craig, 2019).
With such valuable fractions to be reclaimed and re-used from recycling your electronic waste, and the toxic substances that need to be dealt with carefully, we must ensure to dispose of them properly as consumers.
There are many options with what we can do with our old electronics. For example,
- Passing on older electronics to family and friends for reuse.
- Sell your older electronics on sites such as eBay for parts.
- Before purchasing new electronics, consider upgrading or replacing parts of the old electronics.
- Recycle your electronics, many suppliers offer drop of centers for older electronics where they are then sent to be recycled.
Taking these small measures when it comes to purchasing or recycling your e-waste will help reduce the e-waste in your household, provide more economically and environmentally beneficial options.
Cassagnol, D., Anandwala, R., More than 80% of Black Friday Week Shoppers Plan to Buy Tech, Says CTA (Nov 7 2019) available https://www.cta.tech/Resources/Newsroom/Media-Releases/2019/November/More-than-80-of-Black-Friday-Week-Shoppers-Plan-to
Daly, J., More Energy Needed in Battle Against E-Waste (14 Jul 2019) available https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/business/columnists/more-energy-needed-in-battle-against-e-waste-936833.html
Smith, E., Shutting Down A Toxic Trade (5 Dec 2019) available https://meta.eeb.org/2019/12/05/shutting-down-a-toxic-trade/
Craig, A., Think About Your E-Waste This Christmas (28 Dec 2017) available https://www.wordsinthebucket.com/think-about-your-e-waste-these-christmas