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electronic waste

Ethical E-Waste Recycling: A Beginner’s Guide for Small Businesses

In the ever-evolving and rapidly advancing world, it is easy to ignore the environmental impact of digital technology and devices. Many people upgrade their gadgets, including smartphones, laptops, watches, and whatnot. However, many don’t pay attention to the waste generated after its use, commonly known as Electronic Waste or E-Waste. 

Electronic waste has significant negative impacts on the environment. In fact, it threatens the existence of many life forces. Electronic gadgets and devices contain many toxic materials, such as lead, mercury, and lithium.

So, if you do not properly dispose of your device and just throw it in the trash, over time, these toxic materials seep into soil, water, and air and harm everything it touches.

Many companies are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint and e-waste. However, we produce about 50 million tons of e-waste every year. So, it is not easy to address this issue, but together, we can. 

Today, we have put together this article to educate small businesses about e-waste disposal, recycling, and ethical considerations. 

The Growing E-Waste Problem

The world’s technological needs are growing every day, and some like to go smart by choice. However, to cover the needs, companies have to produce and discard more devices every year. All this results in an increase in the total electronic waste.

Here are some facts regarding global e-waste.

  • Studies predict global e-waste generation will reach over 74 Mt by 2030. 
  • Among all e-waste, plastics take the longest time to decompose, whereas aluminum and other metals can take anywhere from 50 to 500 years to deteriorate.
  • A 2019 report reads that only 17% of the e-waste went into proper recycling. 

This means the global recycling rate cannot keep up with the rapid production of electronic devices and their disposal. For this, consumers and tech companies have to consider some ethical practices. 

Ethical Consideration

The following are some ethical practices and considerations that consumers and tech companies (including SMBs) should know and understand.

For Consumers

Responsible Buying: An electronic device has a long lifespan when it comes out of the factory. If you are buying a phone or any device, consider purchasing one with eco-friendly materials and manufacturing.

Proper Discard: Even if your phone or device breaks beyond repair, don’t throw it in the trash. Research local e-waste collection units and disposal firms and give it to them. There are various valuable materials inside a digital device that those units can recover and safely dispose of harmful substances. Also, many big tech companies now offer trade-in features, which get you your new device, and they safely and properly recycle the product. 

Opt for Repair: If your device or equipment is not dead, broken, or has minor issues, it may be repairable. It must be your priority, and many qualified technicians and companies work on a range of devices to fix problems and extend their usefulness. 

For Tech Companies

Eco-Production and Product Reliability: Tech Companies should adopt eco-friendly practices to reduce carbon and heat emissions in their area of operations and manufacturing. These include installing solar systems for energy needs and incorporating recyclable and sustainable materials. They must also design durable, high-quality products that last longer.

Recycling Movements: Companies should also focus on recycling movements. They must build in-house recycling units or if it’s a small business, they should contact reliable e-waste disposal companies. Also, offer repairs, replacement, and trade-in options to encourage people to give the products back to the manufacturers so they can properly recycle them. 

Transparency and Responsibility: Companies must remain transparent about their e-waste production and their efforts to reduce it. They must share updates regarding their status and stats and show partnerships or contracts with e-waste recycling initiatives, programs, and businesses. It will also encourage other companies to follow the same practice. 

Solutions to Counter E-Waste Problem

It is our duty and should be our priority to address the e-waste problem. Otherwise, it will cause massive damage. Here are some solutions that will help counter it:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, is a must. It holds the product manufacturer responsible for its lifecycle and encourages them to build sustainable products and handle proper recycling. 
  • We must all promote resource efficiency to reduce e-waste. It will help promote the repair, refurbishment, and recycling of products.
  • Companies must focus more on eco-innovation and offer recycling programs.
  • Stakeholders and big business leaders should cooperate to counter the e-waste problem.
  • Scientists and researchers should continue to focus on finding new ways to increase e-waste recycling and eco-friendly manufacturing methods. 

Wrapping Up

The ethical consideration and recycling are important aspects to address promptly. Every day, the world relies more and more on technology. Although technology is good, we must also focus our efforts on improving the e-waste recycling rate. 

Ethical e-waste recycling will help lower the hazardous impact of e-waste on earth and life. It will help us promote sustainability and growth for our future generations.

The article is contributed by  Karla Hogan. Karla is a writer and blogger.



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