E-Waste a Silent ThreatBy Sofía Hanna | Mon, 10/19/2020 - 09:45
E-waste has been a problem for a long time now and with each year that goes by, it gets worse. Another factor that has come into the equation is COVID-19 because now that people are doing home office and online classes, consumption of electronics has gone through the roof.
The National Association of Self-Service and Department Stores (ANTAD) said that by 2026, there will be an increase of at least 2 million tons of electronic waste in Mexico alone. The problem has been aggravated due to events like this year’s Hot Sale, in which there was a 75 percent increase in sales of computers.
According to ANTAD, Mexico is one of the countries with higher electronic waste, being third in the Americas with almost 1.2 tons of waste a year. The articles that were changed or thrown out the most in Mexico in 2019 were televisions (43.23 percent at 198,250 tons), monitors (28.64 percent at 131,370 tons) and plasma screens (13.59 percent at 62,330 tons).
Gordon Smith, Sagents’ CEO, clarified in an interview with The Rising that this will not be a short or medium-term problem. According to Smith, we will start noticing the repercussions of this increase in consumption in the long term, making it riskier because of how far away this repercussion might seem.
One of the factors that affect e-waste more than COVID-19 is the lack of investment in circular economy. The lifecycle of electronic products is not complete because we exchange them for a newer model or we throw them out when they have a small inconvenience instead of fixing them, said Smith. Most countries are also failing in tracking their e-waste production. So far, only 41 nations do these studies correctly.
During the pandemic, the sales of electronics that allow contact with others, such as laptops, modems and phones have increased. There is no culture of repairing electronics when there is an issue with them or of keeping our phones instead of getting a new one just because a newer model came out. With each year that goes by, the consumption and production of electronics grows but their useful life becomes shorter. According to Reuters, every year, our e-waste grows 3 to 4 percent.
In our new online reality, fewer electronic devices does not seem like a viable option. Still, we can reuse and fix devices that are still functional instead of getting new ones to minimize the long-term impact, according to Smith.