By Aryaman Bhatia, Science, and Tech editor, and by Ahmad Alsayouf, Science and Tech Staff Reporter
57 million tonnes, that’s how much the entire world has collected in 2021 alone, that’s heavier than the weight of the Great Wall of China. Now thinking that this isn’t a lot since there are more than a trillion tonnes of plastic, you’re wrong, the number of rare-earth metals and other liquids within these electronics does even more harm than plastic does.
About 20% of e-waste is recycled compared to the 2 million tonnes of it produced every year this also shows that e-waste is an overlooked competent within the environment and we need to start paying more attention to it.
Over the years, many toxic metals have been extracted from e-waste piles, such as Cadmium, copper, zinc, lead, chromium, americium, nickel, and thallium. For example, lead can remain in the soil for a great amount of time and can lead to serious health risks, including lead poisoning. Americium’s lifespan is about 432 years while cadmium’s lifespan is about 38 years. iPhones are made up of titanium, iron, aluminum, copper, nickel, and tin.
Titanium lasts about 20 years, while iron, copper, lead, and tin can survive for thousands of years. As previously stated, iPhones have multiple types of rare-earth metals, such as titanium, iron, copper, lead, and tin. When all these metals are combined into one phone, that phone can survive for thousands of years.
Several corporations and groups are attempting to battle the conflict between humanity and e-waste. Of course, the UN is doing everything it can to battle this issue, but with a topic as broad as the environment and sustainability containing so many other topics and issues, e-waste is only a small part of the picture.
The most visible firm addressing this issue is the E-Waste Alliance, a global student-led group (EWA). EWA is tackling these difficulties by utilizing the next generation as a weapon, making the organization student-led, and having many students from all over the world, which allows them to acquire varied ideas from various viewpoints.
This group also raises awareness through their annual Global Summit event, which features speakers from the United Nations urging students to make a difference in their neighborhood.
Another well-known company is Apple, which uses recycled metal from landfills in their phones to create a more sustainable business model and more diversified prospects with other firms.
Furthermore, Apple can even benefit more from this as it allows them to make phones cheaper than their competitors as most of their internal metal comes from landslides. Their relationship between eco-friendly products and their production of phones allows our world to understand the true definition of the famous quote “Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
With all of this information, it is possible to conclude that e-waste has a negative impact on the world, demonstrating that even technological pioneers such as Apple can’t help much with the inevitable demise of the human population and having so much E-waste in the world with the lasting effects that it has the potential to completely destroy our world unless we take action right now!