Stockholm, January 23, 2020
Electronic products come with social and environmental challenges, many of them linked to today’s linear economy. January 24 is Circular Electronics Day, an initiative aiming to encourage organizations and consumers to take a more responsible approach to the electronic goods they use.
In today’s linear economy, we take virgin natural resources to manufacture products, which often have a short lifespan before they are discarded. This leads to a number of serious sustainability issues, affecting human health and the environment. From raw materials extraction to final assembly, working hours, health and safety and forced labor are examples of industry-wide issues. Conflict minerals used in IT products are known to fuel wars and human rights abuses. Hazardous substances present a wide variety of risks. Valuable natural resources are overused and the problem with e-waste is severe. Worldwide, 50 million metric tons of electronic waste are generated every year. It is often handled in unsafe ways, leading to human health problems and environmental degradation.
Even though manufacturers hold the ultimate responsibility for their products, other stakeholders such as policy makers, NGO’s, and purchasers need to work together and contribute to solutions.
“Buyers have the power to influence the industry to move in a more sustainable direction. By making responsible purchasing decisions, they can have a direct effect on human health, lives, and the environment,” says Andreas Rehn, development manager at TCO Development, the organization behind the global sustainability certification for IT products, TCO Certified.
The organizers of Circular Electronics Day encourage both individuals and organizations to use electronics more responsibly and inspire others to take circular action with the hashtag #CircularElectronicsDay. While large organizations have more power to make a difference, everyone can contribute. Decisions made before purchasing a product has the most significant impact.
“Keeping products and materials in use longer is the single most effective thing we can do to lower the negative impact and reduce e-waste. Electronics contain scarce, valuable resources and should never be treated as waste. Instead, materials should be recirculated and used in new products”, says Andreas Rehn.