A tonne of e-waste has the 100-fold amount of gold of a tonne of gold ore. E-waste also contains other precious metals – such as silver, copper, platinum, and palladium. Moreover, iron, copper, aluminum, and cobalt are found in larger amounts in e-waste. According to a UN report from 2019, the e-waste produced annually is worth over USD 62.5 billion.
🌱 Why is not more e-waste being recycled formally?
Only ~17.4% of the e-waste produced in 2019 was processed formally. This is largely because there is not a significant monetary incentive to ensure that a greater percentage would be recycled formally. The cost for the formal recycling of e-waste is higher than for informal recycling – and often also higher than the cost for the primary extraction of minerals needed to produce electronic and electrical products. Moreover, it is often still deemed more profitable to create appliances with shorter lifespans and have customers purchase new products more frequently.
🌱 What business solutions are there?
There are ample opportunities for businesses to contribute to safer and cleaner supply chains around e-waste. Working to create cheaper and easier processes for the formal recycling of e-waste is one way to tackle the issue. Making sure less e-waste is created, and that the e-waste that is produced is easier to recycle, is another path to solving the problem. Creating electronic and electrical products with longer lifespans, that are more easily repairable (for example, by using modular designs), and where spare parts are readily available for longer periods of time, are all excellent examples of ways to reduce e-waste.
Read more about circular economy and e-waste here: