Most of us have a bunch of tech that we no longer need. In some cases we donate it or give it friends. Other times we sell it or trade it in against new gear. But a recent report suggests billions of dollars of useful materials are ending up in landfill.
Ryerson says just 12.5% of e-waste is recycled.
And that means billions worth of valuable materials like gold, silver, copper, nickel and palladium is tossed away when we let out old gadgets hit landfill. They reckon it’s close to US$55B in the United States alone.
An Australian report, released in 2010, suggested then that our local capacity to adequately manage e-waste was under the pump with demand for e-waste services far outstripping the capacity of waste managers. A more recent report, released in 2016, said “Within 10 years, Australia should have a mandatory national product stewardship scheme for tyres, batteries and fluorescent lights and no e-waste should go to landfill”.
Judging by my local hard rubbish collections, there’s a long way to go.
In the mean time, it’s worth seeking out ethical disposal options or, perhaps, keeping stuff running for as long as possible. Tech companies are very good at created a perceived need for the latest gadgets. But there’s a good case for hanging on to gadgets a little longer. Recent research from Telsyte suggests Aussies are hanging on to smartphones for a little longer. And I’m getting by just fine with a four year old desktop computer connected to a seven year old display, along with a six year old laptop for when I travel.