E-waste is already the biggest threat to the planet

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Marie-Ange Demory
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E-waste is already the biggest threat to the planet, according to the World Recycling Foundation.

The fashion of disposing of electronic devices has become a real problem for the environment and human health. Millions of smartphones and other electronic waste such as refrigerators, televisions, microwave ovens or computer screens,  they are thrown away every day when they could continue to be used, thus generating tons of electronic waste.

The United Nations has already warned that i  53 million tons of electronic waste  generated today each year will double by 2050, becoming the fastest growing waste in the world.

In accordance with the "4 r of ecology" rule,  reusing electronic devices is a better solution than recycling them, since, in addition to extending their useful life, it means less consumption of resources and energy, and reduces the volume of junk. electronics and you do not need to recycle as much. "Reusing a computer is up to 20 times more energy efficient than recycling it," says Thibaud Hug de Larauze, CEO and co-founder of Back Market. In addition, many of the WEEE collected for recycling ends up in illegal landfills, or is exported and illegally treated to extract and sell the valuable materials contained therein.

But it's not just about the items themselves, but  of the dangerous components that these devices contain, such as lithium ion, cadmium, lead and mercury batteries, flame retardant chemicals and corrosive acid that are used in its manufacture. There is a lot of toxic waste that, if not treated properly, ends up filling landfills. Every year, thousands of plastic containers and e-waste are shipped to countries that are no longer able to handle the mountains of waste arriving at their ports.

Even precious metals that are discarded. While individually they may be small quantities, together they make up a large sum that adds up quickly. For example, gold in the world's electronic waste is estimated to be equivalent to 11% of the total amount of this metal that is mined each year.

Although according to experts there is still a lot to improve in the management of this waste, it should be noted that Spain is already one of the European countries that most encourages the reuse of electronic devices. L'  current legislation on the treatment of these products in our country, in fact, favors reconditioning over recycling processes.

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