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Electronics Manufacturers Need to Think Sustainable

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I bought a store-brand wireless phone charger from Microcenter. It died within the first two weeks of use. Not only is this a waste of money for consumers, but electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. Every year, approximately 55 million tons of e-waste is produced.

We need a circular economy in which all materials of products are always kept at their highest value so that at the end of the product life-cycle, the materials can be re-used. Electronics need to be well designed with longevity in mind. We cannot continue to be a throw-away society. Products need to be designed to be reused. They must be durable. They must be designed without hazardous materials to allow for safe recycling. Electronics manufacturers must offer buy-back programs for old equipment. Manufacturers must invest in technology that can extract metals and minerals from e-waste. When a product reaches its end of life, the materials need to be collected and sent back to production in a process known as reverse supply chain. A circular economy will create jobs and could reduce the costs for consumers by 7% by 2030 and 14% by 2040 [Morlet, A. et al "The Circular Economy Opportunity for Urban and Industrial Innovation in China", Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018].

 

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William holds a BBA from Western Michigan University and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.

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