We've Discarded Almost 500 Million E-Waste Last Year, Here's How You Can Help

Ranging from cables to vapes, we're creating more recyclable e-waste than we realise.

Cover image via Sarah Chai/Pexels & Daniel Dan/Pexels

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The popularity of disposable tech has been on the rise as of late

A research by Material Focus found that almost 500 million small electrical devices such as cables, lights, mini fans, and disposable e-cigarettes were disposed of.

These 'fast tech' products are comparable to fast fashion and we're currently experiencing the highest rate of growth in terms of e-waste.

In fact, the research, conducted in 2022 and released recently, also pointed out that the average home contains at least 30 unused electrical items.

Material Focus commissioned a survey of 2000 people from Opinium Research

Image via Pixabay/Pexels

The data from the research survey pointed out that approximately 471 million disposable electronics were discarded in the United Kingdom last year. These e-waste consists of the following:

- 260 million disposable vapes
- 30 million LED, solar and decorative lights
- 26 million cables
- 10 million USB sticks
- 7 million cordless headphones
- 5 million mini-fans

The fact that these items cost merely a couple of dollars implies that they are discardable without much thought. However, that is not the case.

These e-wastes contain valuable raw material that could be harvested and recycled

All of these items contain valuable raw materials, like gold, copper wires and lithium batteries, which can be reclaimed through recycling procedures.

Image via Lumafield

For example, the image of the x-ray scan of a USB plug above reveals multiple sources of gold contacts and copper wires which can be extracted and recycled through special processes. 

This conundrum is, unfortunately, a worldwide problem

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum has highlighted in a research that consumers discard nine billion kilograms of items such as cables, toys, vapes, novelty clothing, and similar devices each year, often without recognizing them as electronic waste. 

Here's how you can help reduce the impact of e-waste:

Firstly, you can donate or repair used electronic items that aren't in perfect condition. This ensures that we can reduce the amount of e-waste by extending the lifespan of working electronics.

Next, you can take old electronics to recycling centres. For example, the 1RECYCLING CENTRE in 1 Utama Shopping Centre accepts e-waste recyclables such as old laptops or smartphones and such.

In fact, you can check out this website that lists collectors in Malaysia that accept e-waste to reduce the impact it has on our ecosystem.

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