E-waste is a global issue – here’s how WEEE can help

We recently discussed the WEEE recycling policy and the duty of care that businesses must be aware of when disposing of electronic waste.

As we mentioned, using a licensed waste contractor such as Clearance Solutions is a guaranteed way for businesses to ensure that they fulfill their duty of care.

E-waste can cause serious problems for the environment, and it is important that individuals and businesses alike give consideration to how they treat their electronic products when they need to dispose of them.

At Clearance Solutions we are proud to set the right example in WEEE recycling, but according to recent reports, it seems the rest of the world has some significant catching up to do.

 

The current state of e-waste

A report released by the United Nations University last month says less than one sixth of the world’s electronic waste is being recycled or reused.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, just seven percent of e-waste recorded last year was made up of mobile phones, personal computers, printers and small IT equipment.

The vast majority of waste came from typical electrical appliances found in homes and businesses, with 12.8 metric tonnes of small equipment (vacuum cleaners, microwaves, toasters), 11.8Mt of large equipment (washing machines, dishwashers, electric stoves) and 6.3 Mt of screens being recorded.

A recent report by the UN Environment Programme has given insight into where this non recycled and unused waste is going.

According to Unep, up to 90% of e-waste is illegally dumped or traded.

Despite a ban on hazardous waste being exported from EU and OECD Member States to non-OECD countries, Unep say thousands of tonnes of e-waste are being falsely declared as second-hand goods and being exported from developed to developing countries.

On a local and global scale, Unep warns that the mishandling of e-waste, along with food waste, discarded chemicals and municipal waste, is having a seriously negative impact on the environment and the economy.

The benefits of efficient e-waste recycling

The global waste and recycling market is currently worth over £250 billion per year, but it is not just the economy which would benefit from increased recycling.

Clearance Solutions believe heavily in proper e-waste recycling, because valuable materials that are being extracted from electronic devices would otherwise be taken as raw materials from the earth. Reusing these materials will save on energy, reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to keeping those materials in the ground.

Through the WEEE scheme, the environment is also protected from the toxic waste and chemicals of electronic products which needlessly go into landfill sites.

How to combat e-waste

Calls for stricter legislation on e-waste have been made, Unep also want to see greater work going into the recovery of valuable metals and other resources which are contained within electronic products.

On an individual level, e-waste needs to be managed consciously. By organising the electronic products you currently have, it is easy to work out what items you no longer need and arrange for them to either be properly recycled or (ideally) passed on for someone else to use.

Clearance Solutions are always on-hand to rid homes and offices of any unwanted electronic products under the EU’s WEEE scheme. But rest assured that if we fail to sell or donate these items, they will not be contributing to the global issue of illegally dumped e-waste.


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