End-of-life electronics received attention at the World Economic Forum meeting this month. A report from several global entities called for a systemic change to stem rising volumes of unrecovered devices.
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The Digital Divide continues to impact poor and rural communities where access to affordable high-speed Internet, quality computer equipment, and digital literacy is lacking. Over the past two years, Cascade Asset Management, an e-Stewards certified processor headquartered in Madison, WI, has partnered with DANEnet, a local non-profit engaged in promoting Digital Equity in the community, to address these concerns.
Plastic is still fantastic, despite the trade and environmental headaches, insists e-scrap plastics expert Craig Thompson. But we need to process more at home rather than relying on unsustainable export markets. ‘If they are not doing so already, businesses involved in e-scrap worldwide will have to reshape.’
Technology, and the innovation behind it, moves quickly. It appears that every time we turn around there is a new product, a new system, a new must-have that will revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us and the people in it. The rapid pace at which tech moves makes for exciting times indeed, but there is a little known danger from the quick product turnarounds and constant innovation we have come to expect. In a mounting fight against the toxic e-waste stemming from our increasing number of outdated and discarded technologies, we are forced to question the ethical implications of our dependence on the latest and greatest gadgets. As electronics – computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos or copiers – reach the end of their “useful life,” the issue of how to safely and effectively dispose of their parts, some of which can be hazardous, becomes cause for concern. As an issue that often goes unconsidered, the solution to e-waste is one that depends on education, conversation, and information proliferation.
For over two decades, many developed countries have sent massive amounts of plastic wastes to China for recycling.
But that option is drying up following a Chinese ban on rubbish imports this year, forcing countries, particularly developed nations, to seriously rethink how to process their unwanted materials – a question that have been dodged for many years.
As Robert Reed examines a mountain of trash piled three storeys high, a thin white plastic bag catches his eye. He fishes it out and holds it up. “That is a problem plastic,” he says gravely. “These get stuck in the machines, and there is no market for them.” He gives it a little wave and lets it float back down on to the heap.
Since 2008, Samsung has been a strong supporter of recycling by providing convenient and responsible takeback options for consumer electronics globally. In a new initiative with our partner – Basel Action Network (BAN), we are adopting BAN’s EarthEye™ service – a global GPS based tracking system for electronic waste.