Europe Mismanages 10 Times the Amount of E-Waste It Exports – IEEE Spectrum

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  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Who Plans for Planned Obsolescence?

    Electronics seem to be aging at a strangely alarming rate, says an executive from a design software and services company.

    The public’s concept of planned obsolescence is a phantom that has haunted industrial production for decades. The idea that manufacturers build products with an intended lifespan in mind, that businesses profit from making products that will break within a predetermined period and require consumers to replace them, seems an intuitive reality to some people. While such practices may have been true in isolated instances, closer analysis indicates that those who draft the obsolescence plan are just as likely to be the buyers as the sellers.

    Concern over planned obsolescence has arisen again, especially in Europe, over concerns about the impact on the environment of waste from obsolete electronic devices, unnecessary overuse of resources, as well as their impact on consumer budgets. Studies have failed to uncover purposeful obsolescence targets for manufacturers. These reports have found, however, that often products are replaced not because they have broken but because they have fallen out of style, overrun by innovation.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    We Only Know What Happens to a Fifth of the World’s Electronic Waste

    The amount of electronic waste produced worldwide – the refrigerators, televisions, computers, smartphones, and other devices thrown out or recycled – increased to 49.3 million tons over the last year, up from 46.1 million tons in 2014, according to a new report from the United Nations.

    But only around a fifth of that digital debris was collected and the precious metals inside recovered through formal recycling programs, even though that percentage increased from 15.5% in 2014. The rest falls through cracks in the rules and regulations meant to stem – and document – the flow of harmful e-waste across the globe.

    The fate of around 76% of the world’s e-waste is unknown, according to The Global E-Waste Monitor.

    The e-waste unaccounted for could be shipped out to other countries, where it collects in vast junkyards like Agbogbloshie, Ghana, and Guiyu, China, an infamous dumping ground where conditions have allegedly improved after an international outcry. The largely self-employed workers in the cities pour acid over electronics to extract precious metals like gold, cook circuit boards to liberate chips, and melt the plastic packaging, causing severe health risks and environmental damage.

    They all compete to wring out the gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium, and other valuable materials used in devices. The United Nations estimated that all the raw materials left inside e-waste would have been worth around $55 billion had they been recovered, or around $1,100 for every ton of e-waste.

    The last 4% of e-waste is thrown out in higher-income countries with the trash, which will be incinerated or buried in landfills, allowing toxins to leech into the air, water and ground. That percentage is up from around 1.7% of all e-waste in 2014.

    The problem of electronic waste is not going away any time soon. As more of the population connects to the internet and incomes growing worldwide, companies purposefully build devices with short lifespans

    “We live in a time of transition to a more digital world, where automation, sensors and artificial intelligence are transforming industry and society,” said Antonis Mavropoulos, president of the International Solid Waste Association, in a statement. “E-waste is the most emblematic by-product of this transition.”


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