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.