Friday, July 19, 2024

Should you rent, not buy, electronics?

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Laptops, phones and tablets come out in new, flashier upgrades each year, and consumers lap them up, eager to own the latest desirable models with the most cutting-edge features. But with every upgrade, older models mount up in landfills around the world.

In 2019, we generated a record 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste, according to the Global E-waste Monitor put out by United Nations University’s (UNU) — a UN research and academic institution — among other organizations. It predicts that this amount will reach 74 million tons by the end of the decade.

Apart from the sheer volume of waste piling up on trash heaps, electronics often contain toxic chemicals such as mercury and chlorofluorocarbons that can leach into the surrounding environment.

Despite growing awareness of the problem, little of this waste is being recycled.

“While consumers will often say ‘Yes, of course I am in favor of recycling, and yes, I recycle,’ when you actually look at behaviors, it doesn’t match up with the percentages who say they would do it,” said Laura Kelly, director of the Shaping Sustainable Markets group at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a London-based independent research organization. Read more…

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