It’s Time to Tackle the E-Waste Problem

by Senior Writer, Laura Stoškutė.

With electronic devices getting cheaper and the explosive technology industry growth, the world is facing a massive e-waste problem.   
What is e-waste?

Electronic devices, also known as e-waste and e-scrap, include such items as dated refrigerators, irons, lawn mowers, televisions, smart-phones, laptops and others.  Only 20% of global e-waste is recycled and the rest 80% usually continues to be stored in households because of inconvenient recycling options or simply dumped in landfills.

As the devices become more affordable and the replacement cycle gets shorter, more of the “old” stuff keeps piling up. According to the World Economic Forum, there were 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste generated in one year which is the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers.

“Many thousands of tonnes also find their way around the world to be pulled apart by hand or burned by the world’s poorest workers,” the World Economic Forum notes. “This crude form of urban mining has consequences for people’s wellbeing and creates untold pollution.”

The importance of e-waste recycling

Currently, the majority of the world uses a so-called linear economy model where people take resources, use them to make something and then get rid of it when they no longer need it. If no action is taken soon, the amount of global e-waste is expected to go up to 120 million tonnes by 2050.

The United Nations reports that the e-waste produced annually is worth over $62.5 billion, more than the GDP of most countries. In addition, the UN has advised countries to get a clear plan on how to deal with e-waste. 

Toxic waste is released into the atmosphere when no-longer-in-use electrical items are thrown away as most of the component parts are non-biodegradable, which means these particles contaminate soil and groundwater. As a result, the e-waste recycling becomes fundamental to the overall health of the ecosystem and the future of humanity. 

Another important aspect of e-waste recycling is that the majority of electric goods contain a broad range of precious materials, such as nickel, zinc, aluminium and even gold or silver. In order to extract these precious metals, they need to be specially treated to separate and remove safely. It is possible to cut, not only costs, by reusing what has been already mined, but to also reduce the greenhouse gasses. 

Klyk – a startup that helps tackle the e-waste problem

Klyk, a London-based technology refurbishment startup whose motto is “It’s Not About More Technology. It’s About The Right Technology”, and focuses on stimulating the circular economy in the technology sector.

Klyk’s mission is to empower businesses to be more sustainable with their technology tools. The company offers B2B solution to refurbish or lease technology devices by promoting a greener approach towards the environment and also saving other businesses money. 

The startup supplies good-as-new refurbished phones, laptops and other devices from major manufacturers, so that clients can get the technology they desire at a much lower cost. Thus the startup not only helps to tackle the e-waste issue but also reduce the Co2 emissions.

Furthermore, Klyk finds new homes for the devices that are no longer needed from their clients. The startup aims to change the way people own and use technology and promote the circular economy in the technology supply chain.

Recently, UK mobile network operator O2 announced a new partnership with Klyk to reveal new efforts to tackle e-waste. Earlier this year O2 pledged to achieve net-zero across its entire business by 2025. 

Laura Stoškutė

Laura Stoškutė is a Senior Writer at CleanTech News and a startup enthusiast with a passion for building sustainable businesses. Laura joined the CleanTech News team with a mission to help spread the word about young and growing companies working towards a greener and better future. Her diverse experience drawn from tech companies across financial, legal and energy sectors informs her creative approach to work. She enjoys meeting new people and hearing new perspectives from business owners who create environmentally-friendly products or services and encourage social good.