Consumption is killing the planet. The “Extraction of materials is a chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss—a challenge that will only worsen unless the world urgently undertakes a systemic reform of resource use,” (UN Environment climate change specialist Niklas Hagelberg).
Electronic or ‘’e-waste’ is our fastest growing waste. We all contribute to this problem as we buy more devices. An equally big problem is ‘fast fashion’ clothing that consumes huge resources and yet is discarded after little use.
Recycling is not the solution. More than 80% of electronic waste is not recycled properly; we do not even know where most of it ends up. Like much of e-waste, fast fashion, because of how it is made, can be difficult to recycle and often ends up on landfill or burned.
Similar problems are created with almost everything we buy that use materials extracted from the earth: cars, toys, refrigerators, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, irons, hairdryers, lamps; an endless list, eating up our limited resources.
And then recycle parts and materials only once the other options are exhausted.
unbroken.solutions explores the impact and our systemic solutions to waste; ways to overcome the barriers, identify ideas and resources that we can all access or demand our rights to use.
We now create nearly 55 million tonnes of electronic waste or e-waste each year, and that waste is growing. It is our fastest growing waste stream.
But we have a limited appreciation of the environmental impact it creates. It is two-fold, the e-waste itself (one of our most toxic wastes) and the upstream impact, in the mining and processes used to make all those devices that we eventually throw away. All those devices and the power cables to supply them with electricity contain copper. Every kilogram of copper mined and processed for use, creates 210 kilograms of waste, much of it toxic.
For those electronic devices, up to 75% of the energy usage is in manufacturing it, before you even open the box and charge it. It is a similar story for TVs, computers, games consoles, speakers and other electronic devices.
Addressing the challenges of consumption, increased mineral extraction and increased waste whilst also fighting for our right to repair, requires systemic solutions. Solutions or, more correctly, partial solutions already exist. But we can expand and grow them.
Solutions operate at government or policy level, encouraging (or enforcing) manufacturers to provide the right to repair; at a city or local authority level, providing the infrastructure or services to enable more repair; via commercial and independent repairers, serving their local community; via volunteer repair organisations, helping citizens repair and learn; and as consumers, by acting ourselves.