Why does International E Waste Day matter, and what should you be doing for October 14th? In this article, we’ll review the importance of International E Waste Day, and preview what’s on tap for 2022.
Initially created in 2018 by WEEE Forum (an international association of e waste collectors), International E Waste Day is observed globally every October 14th. This day serves as an important reminder of the massive global impact of e waste, and the importance of methods such as e waste recycling to combat the growing amount of discarded electronics.
What is the global impact of e waste?
Experts estimate more than 63.3 million metric U.S. tons of e waste is produced globally each year. For perspective, that amount of waste weighs more than all commercial airliners ever made (and outweighs the Great Wall of China). In the U.S. alone, around 151 million phones end up in landfills or incinerators each year (a whopping 416,000 each day!). According to a United Nations report, less than 20 percent of e waste is formally recycled across the globe.
Each year, more and more electronics are tossed due to factors like technological advancements and improvements that make older electronics appear to be less desirable or obsolete. This rise in electronic trash and pollution has caused major environmental concerns, including an increase in contaminated landfills, toxic water pollution from leached electronic waste, atmospheric damage, and health harm to citizens globally. Considering the fact that e waste contains toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, PVC plastic, and flame retardants, and that electronic materials are often non-biodegradable, environmentalists have voiced concern that e waste can cause major harm to all living things.
How can e waste recycling help?
Solutions to the e waste crisis include minimizing or preventing electronic waste, or recycling electronics once they’ve reached their end-of-life. Often, electronic assets can be reused, refurbished, donated or recycled. E waste recycling of electronics is an environmentally responsible solution that helps to slow some of the impact of e waste pollution.
In addition to helping to curb environmental pollution, e waste recycling can recover valuable precious materials found in electronic devices such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium, lithium, and cobalt. This method—sometimes called “urban mining”— can help companies and consumers recover assets and reuse reclaimed materials. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the U.S.
What’s planned for International E Waste Day 2022?
In 2022, International E Waste Day will focus on the slogan “Recycle it all, no matter how small!” and promote the recycling of smaller e waste products such as cell phones, electric toothbrushes and cameras. The United Nations reports that small e waste accounted for about 40% of all e waste produced globally. Due to their smaller size, smaller electronics are often discarded incorrectly in trash cans and end up in landfills.
In 2021, over 170 organizations and 50 countries worldwide supported International E Waste Day. This year, the WEEE Forum has asked responsible e waste management companies to join efforts in raising awareness of the importance of e waste recycling, particularly with small devices and appliances. On International E Waste Day, consumers and business owners will be encouraged to repair, resell or recycle small electronics via responsible recyclers. International E Waste Day is a great opportunity for you or your company to renew your commitment to environmentally responsible recycling solutions for your small or large electronics (and we can help you through that process). Let us join together to stem the environmental impact of electronic e waste in our own backyard, and across the globe.