E-Waste Is Destroying Our Planet: Here Is What You Can Do to Break the Cycle

E-Waste Day was created last year by the Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) forum to tackle the global issue of electronic waste (e-waste). Here at Compare and Recycle, we're devoted to help you make a change and stop e-waste. This International E-Waste Day we will be discussing what our smartphones are made of, the impact of e-waste around the world and how we all can be more environmentally responsible with our devices in just a few easy steps.

Why Does E-Waste Matter?

Around 50 million tonnes of e-waste was produced last year, and most of it was not recycled. The e-waste that was not recycled either got burned, left on landfill sites, or traded illegally. A few years ago, the UN disclosed that our electronics, including smartphones, deluge developing countries every year. These countries often do not have the infrastructure to be able to effectively recycle these products. When e-waste is not recycled properly, this leads to the contamination of air, soil and water, which can then eventually affect humans and wildlife. 80% of the world’s e-waste is left in this state, while only a mere 20% of it is recycled annually.

It goes without saying that 20% is nowhere near enough for reducing e-waste's extremely detrimental environmental impact. Controversially, all of this takes place despite there being e-waste regulation that covers around 66% of the global population.

How Do Smartphones Contribute to E-Waste?

Smartphone devices release a variety of toxins which can contaminate the earth, water and vegetation if they are not handled properly, because of the materials that various components are comprised of. For instance, in smartphones, you can find lead, which is known for being poisonous. One example of how air contamination takes place is through the process of copper recovery. In Agbogbloshie, which is an e-waste landfill site in Ghana, scrap workers frequently burn smartphone components to extract copper from them. This releases toxic chemicals into the air, including lead. When people get exposed to this contaminated air, particularly over time, this can cause a plethora of health issues.

How Can We Be More Environmentally Responsible With Our Smartphones?

While e-waste is a global issue, there are some simple steps we can take so that we as consumers can be more responsible with our devices to reduce our environmental impact in the long term.

Keeping Your Smartphone for as Long as Possible

Many smartphone consumers are seduced by the annual offering of an updated phone model with attractive new software features and hardware changes, which leads them to upgrading their former devices unnecessarily. We would strongly recommend that you hold on to your current device for longer than two years, unless it has become completely unusable. The longer you keep hold of your phone, the less CO2-equivalent will be produced each year.

Get a Refurbished Smartphone

Refurbished smartphones are devices which have been given a second lease of life. Recycling companies will assess the phone’s condition, make any necessary repairs, and fix up any signs of wear and tear. Once these steps have taken place, the smartphone will be ready to go back on the market. We would highly recommend that you buy a refurbished device for several reasons. The main motivator is that you will be able to save hundreds over the course of your phone’s contract. It is also a cheaper way to buy a phone outright and use a more affordable SIM-only contract. The most important reason why you should buy a refurbished phone however is that it is a more environmentally friendly option. Getting a refurbished device means one less smartphone getting left to become e-waste.

Compare and Recycle

When the time comes to sell your phone, make sure you do it the smart way and use our recycling company comparison tool. You can use our site to determine which recycler is offering the best deal for your device, which will give you money that you can later put towards your upgrade. Recycling your phone is an easy way to be an environmentally conscious consumer, and you can save money on your next smartphone by doing it. What have you got to lose?


See more posts by Gabrielle

iPhone 15 Environmental Report

iPhone 15 Environmental Report Reviewed

Once again we have reviewed Apple's iPhone 15 lineup Environmental Reports in order to see whether the iPhones are more eco-friendly.

5 Min Read
Three people on their smartphones and ignoring each other

What Makes Us Addicted To Our Phones?

Ever wonder what’s luring you back onto your phone in the unholy hours of the night? Or feel like you could’ve sworn you heard a mysterious vibration, but no notification is to be seen? Well keep reading to uncover what is keeping you addicted to your phone…

5 Min Read
man panicking about iphone depreciation

Pro or Pass: The Impact Of iPhone Depreciation

We did what we do best - a comparison of first year depreciation rates of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series to predict what the first 12 months for the iPhone 15 lineup will be like. Read on to find out which iPhone 15 to pick to avoid faster depreciation.

5 Min Read