Our e-stuff is a goldmine. Recently the United Nations University and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) estimated that electronic waste now contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mined from the ground. Annually $16 billion in gold is built into our electronics and at least 85% is not recovered – lost forever.
WRAP estimates that in the UK, between now and 2020, 3 million tonnes of IT equipment, consumer electronics and display screens will be disposed.
This is roughly the weight of 30,000 Routemaster buses EACH YEAR.
According to WRAP, at least 25% of this waste could be reused.
But statistics are often abstractions. What actually happens on the ground? What does this look like? We visited Camden’s waste disposal and recycling site at Regis Road earlier this month.
There we saw the skips dedicated to e-waste, the separate mobile recycling box, as well as a huge heap of household appliances.
We learned that the North London Waste Authority runs the facility, who in turn subcontracts out waste disposal to different companies. Camden residents’ WEEE (waste electrical & electronic equipment) is recycled and disposed of by DHL Envirosolutions.
We saw that people are bringing “broken” laptops, mobiles and devices that still could be repaired or at least sold for parts. It’s great to see that e-waste is being dealt with properly, but much of this could be diverted and prevented from being treated as “waste” in the first place.
The visit simply confirmed our idea that there is much to be done in terms of waste prevention and stimulating economies of repair!
Camden Council has been very supportive of our project and our ideas – we thank them for arranging the visit. Being literally so close to e-waste inspired us and helped us focus on our mission – reduce what we are throwing away by facilitating repair and promoting new skills.