In recent years one of the main concerns of all the world leaders is sustainability. Sustainable development has become a necessity in today’s time due to the depleting natural resources and the constant degradation of environment around us. The time when we will lose fossil fuels is not far if we maintain to destroy our natural resources in this fashion. According to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations, this senseless and suicidal war that we have waged on nature has resulted in three interlinked environmental crises, Climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. These circumstances has forced the world to look towards sustainability and renewability as they are the only solutions to this major threat.
Sustainability originates from the colossal concern of the modern-day, “what are we leaving for our future generations?” in recent years one of the ways to embrace sustainability and energy security for our country is through proper waste management. The old phones that are thrown away are a hazard to the environment. When consumers get purchase new technology they often throw away the old devices or resell them. Reselling the old devices is a much more sustainable approach as compared to throwing them away as these thrown away technologies end up in dumps. Old electronic items such as your cell phones contain toxic materials such as arsenic, lead and cadmium which is extremely hazardous and need to be handled in a proper fashion instead of being sent to the landfills and garbage dumps. These chemicals damage plant and animal life which affects our food supply. These thrown away electronics become E-waste or electronic waste. According to the studies conducted by MIT researchers all this electronic waste end up at Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Canada, and Kenya demonstrating the huge network of waste management. Several studies have suggested different methods of efficient waste management which promotes circular economy. According to the research conducted by Dr. Sara Behdad of the state university of New York, use of RFID tags, IoT and data analysis can create a system of sustainable waste management which also promotes circular economy throughout the process and can turn our society into a green and sustainable one. Solid Waste Management is one of the ways to become a smart and sustainable society. Often times these chemicals also end up in the water stream, which contaminates drinking water. Recently a research conducted by Prof. Alexandria Boehm of Stanford university states that covid-19 virus travels through these contaminated waters which makes wastewater management a priority as well for the environment.
It is important to handle these electronic wastes properly but not all electronics are easy to dismantle and manage. The process of waste management is extremely complex and sometimes may have some missteps. While buying a new phone one way to discard off your old phone is to sell them. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, your old phone maybe exactly what someone else wanted. You can sell your old device to some stores as well who refurbish it and sell it second-hand. It is an incredible way to avoid creation of E-waste. Companies such as HP have taken an initiative towards circular economy, they collect E-waste and recycle it according to industry standards and conduct rigorous audits to assure proper treatment of the electronic devices. It is important to study the entire life cycle of the product to be able to manage it and use it for circular economy. Several literature has stated the importance of the life cycle study of the products manufactured to promote sustainability. One of the best examples of recycling of E-waste would be the medals of Tokyo Olympics 2020, the metal that is gold, silver and bronze were acquired from E-waste. They have successfully recycled the E-waste and created several medals which were awarded in the ceremony to the winners.
In countries such as US, citizens need to contact legitimate facilities who specialize in waste management to recycle their waste. These facilities take apart the devices and separate rubbish from valuable metals and recycle them.
It has become a necessity to embrace sustainability and the one way in which we can reduce E-waste it by properly managing it, hence instead of disposing of your old phones, it is better to resell them or recycle them through proper legitimate services and help make our society sustainable and green.