There are many people around the world for whom data is prohibitively expensive or difficult to access, including many people in developed countries.
80% of the carbon emissions surrounding the internet-of-things comes from the production and manufacturing of the products we use to access the internet - computers, phones, tablets, and all devices. We generate about 50 million tons of e-waste per year, with less than 20% of e-waste being recycled. We advocate for and partner with organizations that are reducing unnecessary electronic waste by recycling and repurposing used electronics.
Our digital behavior has a direct impact on the global digital carbon footprint. An average person will change more than 40 phones in their lifetime, but only 20% of them get recycled. New digital currencies require increasingly more energy (bitcoin already consumes more than the whole country of Argentina). Are our digital habits really sustainable?
According to a UN report, India is the world’s fifth largest producer of e-waste, discarding almost 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste in 2014. Almost 95% of the e-waste it produces is either burned or dumped in landfills.
Matching growth in ICT networks and services, latest estimates show that the world now discards approximately 53.6 million Mt of e-waste per year – only 17.4% is formally collected and recycled. In 2019, the fate of 44.3 Mt of generated e-waste was unknown – this waste was either not documented, being discarded in landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way. With the current approach to end-of-life management of e-waste, globally, a transition to a circular economy for ICT equipment in particular, is proving challenging.
Currently, only 78 out of 193 (40% of countries) are covered by an e-waste policy, legislation or regulation.
On the upside, e-waste contains several valuable raw materials such as gold, copper and iron. In 2019, the value of raw materials in e-waste generated was estimated at $57 billion USD. At the current collection and recycling rate (17.4%), a raw material value of $10 billion USD could be recovered. Under the right conditions, with due health and safety precautions, e-waste recycling and refurbishment activities could also potentially create green jobs worldwide.
Recycling e-waste from landfills reduces methane emissions, which are 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Recycling instead of producing new materials will also reduce overall energy consumption, avoiding direct greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing the environmental impact of natural resources extraction.