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Wednesday 14th October 2020 marked the 3rd annual International E-Waste Day. First created by the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) forum in 2018, this global event offers a vital opportunity to share insights and prompt important discussion around the ongoing e-waste challenge.


The theme of this year’s event focused on the importance of better-informing individuals, businesses, and future generations about the scale of the world’s e-waste problem, with particular emphasis on what this means for the environment and what actions they can take to help.


In the spirit of this theme, we’re taking our own opportunity to discuss the e-waste issue and shine an important light onto the severity of its environmental impact. Moreover, we wanted to provide our thoughts on how adopting a circular approach can provide a solution.


What do we mean by e-waste?


While there’s no formal definition of e-waste, this term typically refers to the point at which consumer and commercial electronics, as well as other technology, reaches the end of its useful life.


This would typically include a host of different electrical items – everything from computers and mobile devices to screens, printers, projectors, sound systems, and chargers.


The scale of the issue and why it matters


We are living in an age of incredible technological advancement, but the need to harness the latest and greatest only serves to further exacerbate the e-waste issue.


The amount of electrical equipment and electronics used across the globe grows by approximately 2.5 million tonnes a year, and as new technology is created, old technology must be disposed of, creating the e-waste challenge.


In 2019, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide, a startling 21% increase in just 5 years, with estimates suggesting this figure could top 74 Mt by 2030. Even more alarmingly, only 17.4% of this e-waste was collected for recycling or environmentally friendly disposal, meaning around 44.27 Mt of electronic waste was potentially sent to landfill.


Sending e-waste to landfill presents a host of severe environmental issues. The heavy metals, plastics, and glass commonly used in modern electronics can become extremely hazardous when left in landfill, spoiling waterways or polluting the air.


Equally, disposing of technology in this way sees that significant quantities of finite resources go to waste through the mining of new materials for replacement tech. For example, the production of a new PC and monitor uses 530lbs of fossil fuels, 48lbs of potentially hazardous chemicals, and 1.5 tonnes of water. The manufacture and distribution of new technology also increases greenhouse gas emissions.


What can be done?


With the world becoming increasingly reliant upon the latest technology, it’s impractical to expect the creation of e-waste to end altogether. Harnessing the latest innovations helps businesses achieve their goals, protects people’s livelihoods, and supports crucial services such as healthcare.


With the ongoing demand for these innovations, the refresh and replacement of technology will continue to be a global challenge, but there are changes that can be made to help reduce the impact of e-waste.


Those who are familiar with us will know of our passion for the Circular Economy. It’s through the adoption of these principles that the e-waste challenge can be tackled, and the volume of technology destined for landfill reduced.


By extending the life of your existing investments, you delay the immediacy of technology overhaul and reduce your carbon footprint as a result. This means unlocking the full value of your entire IT estate, not just the hardware itself, but the individual component parts, too. Additionally, introducing a strategy that sees that old technology is disposed of correctly will further help to reduce the volume of finite natural resources going to waste.


As Cisco’s largest European Circular Economy Partner, and through our relationships with other major vendors, we can help your business access a host of new, refreshed, or remanufactured technology to extend the lifespan and value of your existing infrastructure. We’re also experienced when it comes to asset disposal and can work with you to create a strategy that rationalises your refresh, sees that technology is correctly disposed of, and reduces your carbon footprint.


To discover what we can do for you, download our latest white paper – For profit and for good – or get in touch with a member of the team.


Get informed with the E-waste Expo


To learn more about the global e-waste challenge, why not join us at the E-Waste World Summit?


This on-demand, virtual event takes place on 18th and 19th November, and you’ll hear expert insights from a host of industry leaders including our own CEO Anthony Levy.


To learn more and register, click here.

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