Issued faced by electronics and electrical manufacturers and retailers may include
- consumer demand prioritises new features over sustainable design
- difficulties to reclaim manufactured electronics and electricals
- critical mineral shortages
- human trafficking of workers used in the mining industry
- water pollution created during the manufacturing process
- for retailers, takeback legislation with difficult to achieve targets
- for retailers, planned obolescence
- the segregation of groups into producers versus the right to repair community
Producer responsibility schemes are a global phenomenon. Whether you manufacture or sell electronic and/or electrical equipment, you are expected to make those products easy to repair and recycle. You are also responsible for supporting organizations that will collect eWaste.
Just 15% of eWaste is recycled on a global basis. This percentage is not moving. A drastic change in approach is necessary.
In the short term, invest in solutions to make your supply chains more transparent. Discover bad actors. Determine if the failures arise from a lack of education, a lack of funds, inappropriate tools and infrastructure, or because they can get away with it.
Resist the temptation to lobby governments to loosen their regulatory requirments. Instead, focus on garnering media attention. Educate journalists (and, by extension, the public) about the ongoing problems with methane at landfills or microparticules from waste incineration.
When you bid for waste contracts, list all the costs involved to properly remediate eWaste. Do so even if you plan to give your customer a discount. Pay your suppliers more so that they can handle the eWaste effectively. Increase your employee health and safety budget. Protect staff who handle eWaste from exposure to toxins.
In the long term, advocate for eWaste mining. The world can not keep mining for new critical minerals to power our devices, wind farms and electric vehicles. We must extract or "mine" the minerals we need from already abandoned electronics and electricals.
eWaste mining is a term that has been around for a long time without any tangible practices. But eWaste mining can become the new standard once we set targets.
Start by actively publicising your efforts. Create an eWaste mining program. Partner with others. Work with us.