Businesses can go through a lot of hardware, which is ultimately discarded. This is a serious problem for the environment and all businesses should understand the issues. Here’s a brief overview, as well as ideas about how businesses can tackle the problem of old tech and its environmental impact.
Simply, ‘e-waste’ is a term that refers to all those electronic devices that either no longer work or are no longer useful, and so are headed for the trash. That means almost any device or electronic gadget that some kind of built-in ‘smart’ functionality, from conventional computer equipment to gadgets and home appliances. Even if it isn’t ‘smart’, an electronic device can be a problem when it comes to disposal and environmental contamination. The huge volume of old tech that is thrown out every year is one issue. Perhaps even more problematic is the materials that they’re made of.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research estimated that 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2019. This represents a 21% increase over five years. Most of this mountain of e-waste is not recycled. Figures suggest that only 17.4% is recycled, which means a massive 82.6% is not. This is also wasteful. A conservative estimate of the valuable elements within the e-waste, including gold and silver, is $57 billion. This was sent to landfill or burned.
The scale of the problem of e-waste is something we all need to be concerned about. Wastefulness is one thing, but some of the materials themselves are toxic or take hundreds of years to break down. Some are both toxic and resistant to decay.
Obviously, this is a situation we can’t just look away from. Fortunately, there are a lot of people who are concerned about it, and are working to make people aware of the issues. Some of the things they’ve come up with are ingenious.
In 2021, world leaders met at the G7 summit, held in Cornwall, England. Sculptor Joe Rush created an artwork to send a message to those leaders about the problem of e-waste.
The sculpture, entitled ‘Mount Recyclemore’, was an ironic take on Mount Rushmore. The faces of US presidents were replaced with those of current leaders, all of whom were attending the summit. They were Joe Biden (US), Boris Johnson (UK), Angela Merkel (Germany), Justin Trudeau (Canada), Emmanuel Macron (France), Mario Draghi (Italy) and Yoshihide Suga (Japan).
The artwork itself was created from twenty thousand pieces of e-waste. Each figure was about ten feet tall. The artist explained the message to the BBC, saying that they needed to address the problem and discuss solutions. It has since been moved to the Eden Project, a nearby botanical garden and eco-project center, where it continues to highlight the threat that our discarded gadgets and electronics pose to the environment.
All businesses need to be proactive about recycling and e-waste. You’ll have grasped the general idea, but here’s a quick reminder of the two main reasons why:
All business owners should also be aware that a cavalier attitude to disposal of old tech has another danger. Your data could fall into the wrong hands. A company’s recycling policy should ensure that all data on old computing equipment is removed before being sent for recycling.
What do you do with your old tech? If you need advice on disposal, or new tech to replace the old, reach out to Quikteks. Call us today at (973) 882-4644 for more information.