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Julie Cook Kitchener Mar 25, 2024 13:11 pm
Hi all, 
With the fast pace of technology and increased demand for electronics around the world, electronic waste is a growing threat to the environment and global health. Over 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually, with only about one fifth of that being recycled. As a result, e-waste is now the fastest growing waste stream on the planet.
If you are looking for solutions to this problem in your area, consider the World Economic Forum’s five suggestions for increasing e-waste recycling rates:
1.     Repair and reuse cafés
Many households may have broken appliances or electronic devices laying around that could be brought to a repair café, where skilled volunteer repairers help people extend the life of their products. These repair cafés exist and have been around for many years in parts of Europe and North America. There is demand for this. According to a 2018 European Union survey, nearly two-thirds of Europeans would rather repair products than buy new ones. Reach out to me if you have questions about leading an initiative like this, as I have experience leading repair cafés in a university setting. 
2.     Manufacturer responsibility
At regional and state levels, legislation can be put in place to make sure that manufacturers are responsible for the costs and logistics related to the end-of-life collection and recycling of their products. If you are working for a municipality, it would be best to join with other cities to advocate for legislation such as this. Other jurisdictions, such as Singapore, have already implemented this kind of legislation.
3.     Combining apps and incentives
Create an app that enables people to take photos of their unwanted appliances and devices to find out the best place to recycle them. The Egyptian government has launched an app such as this, while also partnering with companies so that citizens can exchange their unwanted appliances and devices for vouchers that allow them to purchase new electronics at participating stores.
4.     Colourful collections
To divert waste that ends up in regular recycling streams, some municipalities have created dedicated bins in their urban area where citizens can drop off e-waste. The City of Cambridge in the UK, for example, has bright pink recycling bins for this purpose. Since 2022, around 49 tonnes of small electrical appliances have been deposited into these eye-catching bins. It is important here to note that these bins must be placed in an area that is convenient for people to access. 
5.     Partnership development
Consider partnering with organizations or companies who find value in the minerals that are inside electronic devices. For example, the Royal Mint, that produces coins for the UK and many other nations, is developing a new process to reclaim gold and other precious metals from discarded electronics. They are partnering with Canadian researchers on this process, which can extract 99% of the gold found on circuit boards in laptops, cell phones, and other devices.
For more details on these e-waste solutions, you can visit the World Economic Forum’s website here