Did you know that the average consumer generates about 9 kg of electronic waste every year? That's the equivalent of putting on a new pair of socks every day and then throwing them in the garbage at the end of the day!
Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the European Union and less than 40% is recycled. Most of it is generated due to short lifespans of the devices, limited repairability, and a constant flurry of new-and-pretty devices that are released on a yearly cycle.
How can we combat this environmental issue? By applying the 3R rule:
in this order.
E-waste can be drastically reduced by being mindful of what you need. Researching before buying will help extend your devices lifespan: quality instead of quantity.
There are some preventions that you can do to extend your old devices life, such as swapping out your old hard drive and replacing your degraded battery.
On a bigger scale, legislations like “Right to Repair” aim to combat e-waste by creating a legal obligation for companies to build devices that can be easily repaired by their users.
Furthermore, the EU has proposed a new rule which aims to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution for phones, laptops, and other small electronic devices. This means you would only need to carry one charger in your bag, hurray!
Let’s play out a pretty standard scenario: your laptop is 4 to 5 years old. You've maintained it well, changed out the replaceable parts for newer parts, and it is still too slow for your requirements. You want to throw it away, but don’t! Instead of throwing it away, let’s try to repurpose it. The computer that became old for you, can be someone else’s first computer and satisfy all of their needs. A local organization called GreenDice is a wonderful example of this becoming a viable solution for large companies with thousands of spare laptops.