Why Sustainability Ultimately Begins and Ends with E-Waste, and not Paper Straws

Visualize exactly 300,000 whales stacked on top of each other, flailing in their confusion. Combined, they create a weight of around 55 million tons, enough Newtonian force to crack a hole in the surface of the earth. According to dosomething.org, in the aftermath of 2020, the worldwide generation of E-waste totaled 55.5 million metric tons. Understandably this amount of e-waste is initially not as worrying as it should be, because few have a pre-existing understanding of the measured impact of e-waste on the rest of the world. However, understanding its impact and potential solutions is the real key to reducing environmental pollution over the next few decades, as the electronics industry grows and consumption increases across the globe.

The exponential growth of the electronic industry is expected to continue in the near future, nearly unaffected by the pandemic.

While the growth of the consumer electronics industry initially seems great for businesses and revenue, the growth of the industry means more elephants on the pile, and even more pollution spread around the world. Unlike traditional trash, e-waste has a much more extensive effect than plastic sitting around in a trash pile. According to alianzarecycling.com, E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. E-waste is especially toxic because of its production requirements. It takes around 500 pounds of fossil fuel, 50 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor, the equivalent of an Apple iMac. As consumers often upgrade these consistently at the mention of a newer version, these machines are often left to waste, where they continue to affect the surrounding environment.

As many are coming to find, the solution is in more re-used materials.

While this situation can initially seem relatively hopeless with the consistent expansion of the market for consumer electronics, there’s a surplus of potential solutions available already. One of the most promising and efficient is the introduction of sustainable online marketplaces, which seek to solve this problem from every possible angle. These marketplaces revolve around one simple premise: making communication between manufacturers with excess electronic parts as secure and affordable as possible, in the midst of an oversaturated and expensive market. They’re built to house the excess parts of other Manufacturers, who get paid for selling to the manufacturers who need them. Essentially, one business’s trash becomes another's treasure and everyone benefits.

This form of e-waste recycling is special because it has the effect of not only saving the environment but also substantially increasing revenue for businesses involved. With less excess waste, manufacturers pay less inventory storage costs and make a profit on what would otherwise be thrown out. Unlike other forms of waste recycling where recycling is a costly disadvantage to manufacturers, e-waste has the potential to be greatly beneficial to all parties involved. Businesses get actual monetary incentives to work towards less waste, without the complications of policy. Essentially, one business’s trash becomes another’s treasure, and everyone can benefit.

As manufacturing evolves, the future is coming to look bright for the electronics industry. Manufacturers who adopt the process of buying in bulk through secure online parts marketplaces can look forward to public approval from sustainability groups, and lower recycling costs. Normal people can look forward to cleaner water, less air pollution, and significantly fewer environmental challenges in areas near waste dumpsites. The key to world sustainability is here now, with the only question being; will Manufacturers take the next step?

Market researcher, sustainability expert, and manufacturing entrepreneur! Subscribe for weekly articles