What can be done with old telephones and electronic devices?

(CNN Business) — In the last two months, Apple, Google and Samsung presented new smartphones and other devices with the intention of consumers making changes before the end of the year festive season. Pero en el proceso, estas y otras empresas también pueden estar contributendo a un problema crecense: la waste electronica.

The limited useful life of many technological devices, combined with the few options to repair older devices, has made the problem of electronic waste increase over the years.

United Nations data indicate that the world generated an astonishing 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste in 2019, and only 17.4% of it was recycled.

This Friday, the International Day of Electronic Waste is celebrated, an annual opportunity to reflect on the impacts of electronic waste and do more to repair or recycle them. The Forum of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE, by its acronym in English), a non-profit organization based in Brussels that has led the event since 2018, said that this year’s approach is to take measures with small pieces electronic waste that many people can accumulate involuntarily, including old cell phones, headphones, remote controls and computer mice.

“La gente tiende a no darse cuenta de que todos estos apparentemente insignificantes articles tienen mucho valor, y juntos nivel mundial representa lumúmenes massiveos”, said Pascal Leroy, general director of the WEE Forum, en un comunicado.

The question of electronic residues is much more than cleaning the waste drawer space.

La Agencia de Protección del Medio Ambiente de EE.UU. (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) affirms that large quantities of electronic waste are sent to countries in development that lack the capacity to reject these imports or the infrastructure to recycle them safely.

The Organization Mundial de la Salud also warned that children are usually employed to process mountains of electronic waste in developing countries in search of valuable elements such as copper, silver, palladium and others, with smaller hands. La OMS said that more than 18 million children are exposed to a series of negative health impacts when they work in this informal industry of processing electronic waste.

There are some measures that you can take with your phones, computers and chargers that you keep at home to alleviate the burden of electronic waste.

electronic garbage

Old laptop casings are piled up on shelves in the workshop of the local NGO Electronic Waste Initiative of Kenya (E-WIK) while the NGO collects electronic waste to be processed, recycled and reused in an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. December 3, 2021. Credit: Ed Ram/AFP/Getty Images

Find an electronic waste elimination service

Si vives en una zone que ofrece servicios de eliminación de residuos electronicos (ie via specific dates for collection or in a place of delivery), the experts say that it is one of the most easy and intuitive ways to eliminate old appliances.

In the last few years, several coalitions have emerged to give consumers the option to dispose of their devices in a responsible manner. The group e-Stewards and Sustainable Electronics Recycling International offer online tools to find certified recycling centers.

The collective impact of electronic waste recycling can be amazing. For every million cell phones that are recycled, the EPA states that they can recover 15,800 kilos of copper, 350 kilos of silver, 34 kilos of gold and 15 kilos of palladium.

Pero no todos los municipios de EE.UU. account with the infrastructure for the recycling of electronic residues.

Consulta con los retailers

Si no encuentra un centro de reciclaje cercano, una lista increasingly major de grandes retailers, como Staples y Best Buy, también tienen programs que permanente a los clientse llevar sus electronic waste para su reciclaje. And many manufacturers, like Apple, have programs that offer credits and free recycling in exchange for delivering used devices. Google, for example, offers the option of requesting a free shipping label to send some electronic devices used for recycling.

No te apresures a cambiar de equipo

Los defensores del medio ambiente affirman que el paso más importante para atajar el crêquento problema de la waste electronica es simplymentar utilizar los aparatus electronicas el major tiempo posible. En cierto modo, eso es más fácil que nunca.

Although technology manufacturers have been criticized for their tactics to force users to renew their devices, legislators have recently approved changes to force companies to facilitate the repair of consumer electronic devices and support the boom del movimiento Right-to-Repair (derecho a la reparación).

At the beginning of this year, Apple and Samsung launched self-service repair shops, offering pieces to users looking to repair their smartphones. Google also announced that this year it will offer original repairs for the Pixel in an online store.

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