A good year for the electronics industry means more products made and sold. We all celebrate. At the same time, we need to be thinking about where the devices being thrown out and replaced are actually going.
Everything from cars and refrigerators to cellphones and gadgets are littering landfills all over the globe. The organization Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) estimates that, worldwide, by the end of 2017 end-of-life electronics, including refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers, monitors, e-toys, and other products with a battery or electrical cord would comprise enough volume to fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway straddling three quarters of the equator. Over five years, that's a 33 percent jump, the organization said.
As an industry, it's time to get a handle on the question of product lifecycle, from cradle to grave. Jane Nishida, acting assistant administrator at the US-EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs, said in a StEP press release:
EPA partnered with the United Nations University's Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative understanding that the growing e-waste problem can only be addressed effectively when we have better information on the global flows of used electronics. We are pleased that StEP, working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Center for Electronics Recycling, was able to deliver a report that provides a scientific-based approach to generating information on US exports of used electronics.
Take a look at this infographic from Good for an eye-opening look at just how big a problem this is. What's the role of the supply chain in tackling this growing issue?
@Hailey - If they are given options (or push for them), perhaps the next generation would place more of a premium on longevity/repairability, or at least provide the emphasis and incentives on recycling these productx when they expire.
@Eldredge, this generation of consumers certainly isn't willing to pay the premium. I wonder if the next generation, though, will be more concernd about the enviroment and have more investment in protecting it. They may use an entirely different measuring stick.
@Hailey - Probably true, but it seems like that would be a major paradigm shift at the consumer level, starting with a willingness to pay higher prices for those product qualities. I think there is a segment of the consumer base that would be willing to do that, but not a majority.
@nimantha.d - Good point. There will always be a market for appliances and hardware that have all of the options and conveniences, targeted to those who have the means to repair or replace them as required.
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