Waste Not, Want Not: The E-Waste Treasure Trove.

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The number of electronic devices is increasing (as well as our reliance on them), along with the exponential technologies that drive them. The average household spends around $800 on new electrical and electronic goods; which works out to be around 1.4million tonnes per year in weight. Unfortunately a similar amount is disposed of—with nearly 40% of this sent to landfill and less than 10% of this re-used—despite the fact that much of it either still works or could be repaired. Of particular political and economic concern for governments and businesses is the availability of some raw materials, which if recaptured, amount to something like this:

“When products are reused and materials are recycled, we avoid the need to extract new raw materials. For every million cell phones recycled, we can recover: 35,274 pounds of copper; 772 pounds of silver; 75 pounds of gold; and 33 pounds of palladium. Further, 1 metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold, and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper compared to one metric ton of virgin ore mined or extracted in the US” —EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

While consumption of the latest and greatest electronics shows no signs of slowing down, what’s interesting is that a majority of consumers have indicated a willingness to trade up if they get the right price offer from their retailer; 57% of consumers stated they would be likely to buy second-hand products from major retailers (WRAP); and the number of devices being sent to recycling centers is slowly but surely increasing.

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