How COVID-19 Is Impacting E-Waste
Start writing a post
Community

How COVID-19 Is Impacting E-Waste

While it might not seem like the pandemic would impact e-waste, it definitely is.

730
How COVID-19 Is Impacting E-Waste

Many were quick to point out COVID-19's positive environmental impact in the early days of lockdown. As traffic declined and factories slowed, it seemed like the world was finally healing. Still, the pandemic may not be beneficial for the environment, thanks to growing threats like e-waste.

E-waste, short for "electronic waste," refers to all the computer parts people throw away. Things like circuit boards and wires can leak toxic metals and chemicals into the environment if improperly recycled. Since the world only recycles 20 percent of its electronic waste, that's a problem.

In 2019, the world generated a record-breaking 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste. The COVID-19 pandemic could result in an even larger sum in a few years. Here's a closer look.

A Coming Wave of Electronic Waste

Social distancing regulations have led to an unprecedented period of electronics adoption. As more people work from home and stay indoors, the number of devices they use rises. Tech adoption is soaring, and all these electronics will eventually become obsolete or unnecessary.

According to an e-waste recycling insider, electronic waste won't increase in the short and mid-term. Right now, people are acquiring more devices, not throwing them away. As these technologies come to the end of their life cycles, though, this will cause a surge in e-waste.

Since there's more tech in use right now, waste levels will rise if turnover rates remain the same. PC sales have climbed by 2.8 percent over 2019 levels, so if turnover rates continue, it'll mean a 2.8 percent increase in computer waste. That doesn't sound like much, but 2.8 percent of 2019's figures adds up to 1.5 million metric tons of additional waste.

Strain on the Recycling Workforce

COVID-19 is also making things difficult for the e-recycling industry. Recycling this type of waste typically requires a licensed company offering a certificate of recycling or destruction. These businesses will see more demand in the future, but right now, they're struggling.

While recycling companies are an essential service in most areas, they still face cutbacks. Dwindling demand and social distancing requirements have led to a reduced workforce. If these businesses can't recover by the time e-waste starts to surge, this could lead to a recycling deficit.

The e-recycling industry may not be equipped to handle the post-COVID surge. In the short term, factors like disrupted logistics chains make it more difficult for them to work normally.

Preparing for Post-COVID E-Waste Management

Considering these risks, companies should pay more attention to their e-waste management. Adopting new technology can be a lifesaver for a business, and there's a safe way to upgrade. Instead of throwing old equipment away, companies can send it to a licensed e-recycler.

Some of these businesses can even refurbish and upgrade old tech, extending its life. On top of reducing a company's waste, these options will also help struggling recycling businesses. If organizations adopt these practices now, they can prepare for the post-COVID electronics waste surge.

The type of technology a company adopts also matters. Turning to cloud-based systems instead of new hardware can enable businesses to use legacy equipment longer. That way, they can use newer tools without disposing of older tech.

COVID-19 Affects More Than Some May Realize

The pandemic will affect far more than just public health. Recycling and a public health crisis may not seem related at first, but COVID-19 could considerably impact electronic waste. There are likely more unforeseen consequences that will emerge as the pandemic continues, too.

E-waste was already a problem before the pandemic, but if businesses aren't careful, it could get worse. With thoughtful tech adoption and recycling, the world can avoid a computer waste surge. If tech usage continues as usual, though, it could be bad news for the environment.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Alexis Hoffman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that cutting out social interaction has taken its toll.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked Instagram How 2020 Was, And Maybe It Wasn't The Worst Year Ever

2020 is a year to remember but it's not as bad as we made it out to be.

7447

It's finally 2021 and we're honestly all just happy that 2020 is over. I decided to ask my Instagram followers how they felt about 2020 and the results were a little more mixed up than expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ever since I watched "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," I've been a major Matthew McConaughey fan. I've seen most of his movies, and I definitely got way too excited when he finally made an Instagram! So when he announced he would be releasing a memoir titled "Greenlights," I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on this book. And so did the rest of the world, as the book began to flood social media.

Truthfully, I would much rather read a fiction book and dive into another world than read a nonfiction book - even if it is one of my favorite celebrities. But I had a feeling this book wouldn't disappoint or bore.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The Armie Hammer Scandal Discourse Is Kink Shaming And Harming Actual Victims

The rumors surrounding Armie Hammer has resulted in some very toxic and harmful discourse.

381

Sex is something that occupies a very significant place in our lives. Even asexual people can have an active sex life. With the various types of people that comprise this world, it obviously results in various sexual interests. And unconventional people can engage in some pretty unconventional sex practices. Even the most conventional people on the surface might surprise us with their sexual fantasies.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The Top 10 'Sex and the City' Episodes You Need To Revisit Before The New Series

In anticipation for the upcoming series, "And Just Like That," here are the ten "Sex and the City" episodes you need to revisit.

94
HBO

"Sex and the City" has become quite the franchise since its premiere in the late nineties. The series lasted six seasons and even produced two films. Fans of the show were anxiously awaiting a revival, even if their hopes seemed futile. Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha Jones, recently spoke out saying she would not return to the show. Cattrall explained that she was never friends with her co-stars and even had a difficult relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker.

In the wake of Cattrall's revelation, rumors swirled the series would come back without her. On January 10, a new teaser was posted on social media for the new series, "And Just Like That." Now that a revival is officially confirmed, here are the ten "Sex and the City" episodes you need to revisit.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

My New Tattoo Reminds Me To Love Everyone With Intention—And Yes, That Includes Myself

I've realized that love has almost nothing to do with agreeing and almost everything to do with grace.

4482
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I'm a big believer that everyone has a story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lum3n

Women are known to lug around heavy purses with unnecessary items inside. How many of these useful items do you keep in your own bag? We need to be prepared with a list of things to have with us whenever we leave the house again.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments