Modern society is saturated with consumer electronics. As new and more sophisticated products are released, old electronics are tossed out, leading to a growing e-waste problem.
Most electronics are made with toxic materials that can seriously damage both the environment and human health.
Current trends within electronics recycling revolve around safety and sustainability. Companies like ViaTeK Solutions are forging new paths within the industry.
The Importance of Proper E-Waste Management
Proper e-waste management is critical. According to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), e-waste volumes surged by 21% between 2014 and 2019. Unfortunately, only a small portion of that waste was properly disposed of.
Unscrupulous companies typically dump their e-waste in third and second-world countries with lax environmental rules. Once there, the e-waste is recycled by unskilled, informal workers as young as five years old.
A 2021 study by the World Health Organization titled “Children and Digital Dumpsters” found that millions of children worldwide are routinely exposed to toxic e-waste. Some children work directly with the hazardous materials while others live close to poorly run recycling centers. This is troubling because children are especially vulnerable to issues like lead and cadmium poisoning.
At ViaTeK Solutions, we’re committed to an ethical approach. We pride ourselves on our commitment to safe and environmentally conscious e-waste disposal and recycling methods.
Electronics Recycling Trends 2022
The electronics recycling industry is rife with bad behavior, but health and environmental activists as well as a few industry leaders are making changes. 2022 recycling trends show this progress. Here are the most popular trends.
- The Right To Repair
E-waste volumes are surging because consumers are throwing away a lot of products. Repairs are difficult and new electronics are often cheap.
Lately, however, the situation has shifted. The right to repair movement is now gaining ground. After years of prohibitive repair policies, both Apple and Microsoft have revised their stance.
Beginning in 2022, Apple will make its factory repair manuals available to customers. Microsoft hasn’t announced a specific date or plan, but the company has said that it will also increase access to its repair manuals. In addition, Microsoft plans to study how this change affects e-waste and its own carbon footprint.
Ultimately, if the right to repair movement is successful, less waste will be produced because people will hold on to their broken electronics rather than get rid of them.
- Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling
According to IEEE Spectrum, only half of the 180,000 metric tons of lithium-ion batteries that could have been recycled in 2019 actually made it to a recycling center. The process, however, is about to become much easier.
Currently, there are just 100 countries in the world that can safely recycle lithium-ion batteries. Yet, that number is expected to grow quickly as demand becomes more intense. Consumers are growing in their demand for electric cars with large lithium-ion batteries, which makes it essential for manufacturers to think about recycling.
In addition to helping the environment, proper recycling can also help company profits as lithium-ion battery waste is extremely valuable. In 2021, four US battery recyclers raised more than $255 million from investors.
- The Rise of Refurbished Electronics
Consumer demand for home electronics soared sky-high during the pandemic, leading to massive shortages. Lack of traditional availability led many consumers to the resale market. Refurbished electronics sales exploded over the past few years.
Consumers feel safe purchasing used electronics now in part because of increased awareness of e-waste. Many people are trying to actively reduce their ecological footprint. Paying attention to e-waste and buying refurbished electronics is one way to do that.
Refurbished electronics are also losing their stigma because consumers have realized that they don’t have to sacrifice quality. Many used electronics function identically to their brand-new counterparts. Companies like Apple and Best Buy have certified in-house refurbishment programs so consumers can feel extra secure.
It’s likely that society’s reliance on electronics will only grow stronger in the future. The world can’t afford to wait to get a grip on e-waste disposal, however. There’s too much at stake.
ViaTeK Solutions provides ethical and sustainability-focused e-waste recycling services. Contact us today to get started.