Without a doubt e-waste is becoming a growing issue. In an advanced age where more people own smartphones than toothbrushes, electronic devices are booming in virtually every industry. As a result, recyclers are constantly playing catch-up to the faster than ever cycle of new products, materials, and technology being put on the market. To keep up, recyclers are constantly creating new techniques and business models for processing end-of-life or end-of-use devices. But e-waste recycling may become as advance as its products.
In an article by Wired UK, recyclers may be falling behind in the race to keep up with new technology. Last year alone saw enough e-waste to recreate nearly 1,000 Titanic ships and unfortunately, many studies show that e-waste amounts is only projected to grow over the next few years. Some countries like many EU states and Korea have put systems in place as an effort to decrease e-waste, which are based on “extended producer responsibility” and puts the burden on producers to ensure electronic waste does not damage the environment.
That said, the bar for e-waste is low as many countries do not have any e-waste solutions in place and many companies remain non-compliant with systems and regulations. However, this may all be set to change since the nature of what we buy is rapidly changing. The more technology becomes advanced, the more it affects how we handle the device. And it begins with recyclers demanding manufacturers to maximize design for disassembly as well as manufacturers providing easy-to-understand disassembly instructions to consumers. By doing so, e-waste recycling will be streamlined into an easier process where the requirement of significant human intervention has been removed almost completely and would be the first few steps of advancing the e-waste recycling operations.