An outdated mobile phone, broken washing machine or laptop that has become slow: the mountain of waste with such discarded electronic devices is growing rapidly. According to the WEEE Forum, an international organization involved in the recycling of e-waste, about 3 to 4 percent of electronic waste is added every year.
To draw attention to this, the international e-waste day was created. That day of action will be organized for the fourth time today, during the National Recycle Week, which lasts until 17 October. Consumers can participate in various collection campaigns and several primary schools are drawing attention to the collection of electronic waste.
The WEEE Forum calls on companies and consumers to have broken electronic items repaired as much as possible or at least to hand them in separately so that they can be recycled.
It concerns large numbers: the United Nations University, a research organization of the United Nations. expects that more than 57 billion kilograms of electronic items will be thrown away worldwide this year. That is on average just over 7.5 kilos per person.
Reporter Mattijs van de Wiel visited the Fixers repair shop for the NOS Radio1 News, where thousands of laptops, smartphones and tablets are repaired every month. But such a repair is often relatively expensive:
In the Netherlands, 377 million kilos of refrigerators, chargers, telephones, lamps, TV screens and photo cameras were put in the garbage last year, almost 22 kilos per inhabitant. About 58 percent was handed in to, for example, recycling centers, recycling companies and collection points in shops. This collection percentage is increasing: in 2010 it was still 39 percent.
Uncollected electronic waste can end up in various places, says Kees Baldé, who has been researching e-waste in the Netherlands and worldwide for years at the United Nations University, among others. “The largest part is mixed with metal waste against the rules, because of a financial incentive: a ton of metal waste yields more than a ton of refrigerators. Refrigerators that are left on the street can also end up in that gray circuit.”
About a tenth of the discarded electronic equipment in the Netherlands is not collected separately, but ends up in the regular waste bin. “That mainly happens with smaller devices,” says Baldé. “A mouse, a hard disk, a light. Sometimes people don’t know what to do with it. It’s small stuff, but in absolute numbers it’s a significant amount.”
By collecting electronic waste separately, metals and other raw materials can be safely removed and possibly reused. This also applies to old smartphones, for example. NOS op 3 explains why they contain a ‘(gold) mine’:
Finally, some of our e-waste ends up in other parts of the world, especially in West Africa. This includes, for example, old mobile phones or laptops that are refurbished and sold abroad.
“In theory, that can work well,” says researcher Baldé, “because the products then have a longer lifespan. In practice, however, some of the devices already no longer work upon arrival in African countries. And then they arrive at that. dump sites.”