It's estimated that the United Kingdom alone produces one million tonnes of electrical products per year. Over the entire world over the last 30 years there has been a technology revolution. Recycling was only perceived for the market in 2001 with the first dedicated center opening in the UK. To this day only twenty percent of all electrical appliances were recycled. Eighty percent of the UK's products were sent to China for disposal.
The impacts of these are staggering as the population grows so does its need for more technology and appliances.
A very interesting fact concerns gold and silver. Gold has never been higher in value during the global downturn its current price is around £ 1000 per ounce. Although silver is a lot less at £ 30 per ounce.
Studies show that in personal computers, mobile phones, tablet computers and other electrical products account annually for 320 tons of gold and more than 7000 tons of silver. The reason gold is utilized is because of its high electrical conductive properties and its accessibility to corrode. For these reasons it is in connectors, wires and electrical circuits.
Other precious metals in manufacturing such as copper, titanium and aluminum are used in technology production. There have been many ideas to mine these metals from the goods and it is estimated that if this could be done worldwide it would generate more than $ 20 billion dollars a year. That's around 2% of the US gold reserve.
All sellers and manufacturers in European Union who place electrical products on the market have to follow by legislation the WEEE directive. WEEE stands for waste electrical and electronic equipment it was formed to take down the amount of goods produced and encourage recycling. A product that conforms to this has the wheelie bin logo displayed on it.
The environmental impact of technology waste is high. Most of it is processed in developing countries. There are some scarp components that contain very harmful substances and contaminants like lead, beryllium and cadmium. This causes a large risk to the workers employed to sort and dismantle these items.
When these items are placed into landfill they break down and create heavy metals these can then find a way into the water table and inside the water system.
The most obvious solution is to produce less or keep things for longer and repair them and stop the thruway mentality which to a larger extent is driven by brand.
Another solution is to manufacture upgradable or smarter products instead of their whole form being changed. Instead just upgrade the necessary components to make them faster or more compatible to their technology.
If we created smarter products which had a core design that could have changed with trends and features this would greatly help to cut down the number of products on the market and the amount of recycling.