A recent study conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) says that the recycling of e-waste is the most urgent thing to do to save our planet from harmful emissions of gases, thus leading to climate change. The research was conducted in the UK and it brought light to the underlying problem, of which more than half of the population is unaware. The study says that recent global events like the war in Ukraine and even the health crisis have caused a severe shortage of elements like lithium, silver, indium, etc. on Earth. This has ultimately created havoc in the supply chain sector, which resulted in an unusual increase in prices for these elements. However, the demand for these materials is also likely to increase as we move forward. Electronic warfare, which is favored by almost every country, is also causing difficulties, thus emphasizing the need to recycle the e-waste without any delay.
The mining of e-waste would be a huge investment for us and our future generations as well. Prof. Tom Welton, who is serving as the President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), said, “Our tech consumption habits remain highly unsustainable and have left us at risk of exhausting the raw elements we need, thus continuing to exacerbate environmental damage.” He further said, “We need governments to overhaul recycling infrastructure and tech businesses to invest in more sustainable manufacturing. All this volatility in supply chains just reinforces the fact that we need a circular economy for these materials. At the moment, we’re just mining them out of the ground constantly.”
Most importantly, the elements used in the e-gadgets are also variedly used for a lot of other purposes. For example, medical thermometers, telescopes, LEDs, etc. are compromised of the main element “Gallium”, but due to its utilization in the manufacturing of electronic gadgets, that too in vast proportions, caused its shortage in today’s world. Similarly, tantalum is employed in the manufacturing of turbine blades, in supersonic aircraft, and is also the main component of hearing aids. Due to the shortage of these elements, the suppliers have considerably increased their prices, which is proving a nightmare for those in need of these materials.
The research reveals that when they conducted an online survey about sustainable technology, 60% of people believed that they were willing to shift to a brand that uses sustainable technology in its manufacturing processes. Also, Elizabeth Radcliffe, from RSC, said, “Manufacturers and retailers need to take more responsibility. Like ‘take-back’ schemes, which mean people can return their electronics to a retailer and be assured they will be recycled securely. It will need everyone to work together to scale up these processes and put the infrastructure in place, so we can all recycle our devices. “