Doing more to fix the e-waste problem

Working from home is leading to a rapid increase in the UK’s already growing e-waste crisis.

“Tech giants should be banned from intentionally shortening the lifespan of devices.”

Entrepreneurs are coming up with concepts focused on sustainability, zero-waste, and more: eg: cutting down e-waste by providing a marketplace for people to sell and buy devices.

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Working from home is proving very popular:

Working from home and the new localism – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And it very much relies on technology:

Decentralization and technology-enabled home working – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The problem is that if we are busy buying new tech stuff, we are also throwing it away:

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WFH trend triggers spike in sales of new IT equipment, causing e-waste pile-up

The amount of unrecycled e-waste produced in the UK has grown substantially in recent months due to the imposition of lockdown restrictions and the purchase of new IT equipment for home working, research has shown.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), nearly half of the people who moved to a home working setup bought new IT equipment to accommodate their needs. According to figures from Currys PC World, 11 per cent of people simply threw their old tech in the bin, with only 13 per cent choosing to recycle it properly.

Professor Tom Welton, RSC president, said: “Clearly, the coronavirus pandemic caused a rapid change to our work and lifestyle patterns, but a significant unintended consequence we are now facing is a rapid increase to the UK’s already growing e-waste crisis. That nearly as many people are binning their old tech as recycling it is a huge concern. We increasingly think about the sustainability of other items around the home, such as plastics and cardboard packaging. If we’re to have sustainable technology, we need to start thinking in the same way about our old gadgets, or we risk running out of the elements we need to produce these items while continuing to exacerbate the environmental damage caused by the consumer tech industry.”

Globally, e-waste rose by up to 21 per cent in the five years leading up to 2020, but just 17.4 per cent of 2019’s e-waste was recycled, according to a report last year. A further study in December found that the UK produces the second largest amount of e-waste per person in Europe.

In a bid to cut down on UK e-waste, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has said tech giants should be banned from intentionally shortening the lifespan of devices…

WFH trend triggers spike in sales of new IT equipment, causing e-waste pile-up | E&T Magazine

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So, one solution would be to make planned obsolescence more difficult:

New ‘right to repair’ rules – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Another would be to reconsider the extraction industries:

Cobalt in your car battery: the ethics of mining minerals – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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But it is a very tricky nut to crack, as this video from CNBC shows:

Tech companies aren’t doing enough to fix the e-waste problem

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Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are coming up with solutions.

From Africa:

How entrepreneurs in Africa are tackling the growing mountain of e-waste – Positive News

To Brixton:

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UK-based refurbished electronics startup Reboxed raises £500K to turn the tide on e-waste epidemic

In the recent past, many entrepreneurs are coming up with a concept focused on sustainability, zero-waste, and more to tackle the threat posed by global warming.

Brixton-headquartered startup Reboxed is one such startup that aims to cut down e-waste by providing a marketplace for people to sell and buy devices.

In the latest development, a refurbished and pre-owned tech brand raised £350k in pre-seed funding from angel investors, bringing the total amount to £500k. Angels include former Dyson CEO Martin McCourt, Mazuma Mobile co-founder Charlo Carabott, and ustwo Co-Founder Matt ‘Mills’ Miller…

UK-based refurbished electronics startup Reboxed raises £500K to turn the tide on e-waste epidemic – UKTN (UK Tech News)

   
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