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E-waste, what is it and what are the causes?

E-waste is another name for electronic waste. With the increasing use of electronic and electrical equipment worldwide, the accumulation of that E-Waste (WEEE) in the environment is gradually increasing. In 2019, a record amount of 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste - discarded products with a battery or a plug, such as computers and mobile phones - would have been generated worldwide, an increase of 9.2 million tonnes in five years.

Only 17.4 percent of that E-Waste was officially collected and recycled, so there is still a lot of work to be done.

The new report (source: Global E-waste Monitor 2020) predicts that by 2030, the annual total of E-Waste will reach 74 million tonnes, almost double the amount of 2014.

 

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E-waste

This increase has several causes:

- First of all, more and more people are participating in the global information society and digital economy. As a result, higher levels of disposable income, urbanisation and industrialisation in many developing countries are leading to growing amounts of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and, consequently, to greater amounts of E-Waste.

- In addition, single-function devices are being replaced by multi-function items, which is another driver of E-waste generation.

- Finally, multiple ownership of devices, the tendency to make non-electric devices such as wristwatches (now often smartwatches) also electric, and the unavailability of universal power adapters, also promote the production of E-waste.

Out of Use and e-waste, a match made in heaven?

Just as there is a solution for every problem, this is not different for the growing pile of e-waste. With the right knowledge and know-how, e-waste offers many possibilities.

Thanks to many years of experience, Out of Use is able to process e-waste in an environmentally friendly and, above all, circular way. First of all, we check whether this electronic waste is indeed 'waste'. What is considered waste by one person can be of value to another. It often happens that there are usable devices in the landfill. These devices are filtered out of the recycling process and are given a second life.

When reuse is no longer possible (due to damage or too outdated), the device is being recycled. For the recycling of this e-waste, it is important to have the necessary knowledge. First of all, the appliances are professionally dismantled and stripped of hazardous substances. After this, the primary materials are recycled into secondary raw materials. This is called urban mining. (Read: blog urban mining)

In doing so, Out of Use recovers no less than 89.96% of secondary raw materials from 100% electrical and electronic waste. In addition, 4% is incinerated with energy recovery, bringing the recovery rate to 93.96%.

This is how Out of Use reduces the amount of e-waste while gaining valuable materials, a win-win situation for a more sustainable future.

Source: Butterworth-Heinemann (11/2019). Urban mining of E-waste: treasure hunting for precious nanometals

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