Our electronics are an integral part of our day-to-day lives, but most of our devices play a serious role in environmental degradation. Through hazardous waste and energy consumption, our tech has unseen consequences on our planet.
Fortunately, the rapidly growing popularity of environmentally-friendly products has reached electronics, giving us new innovations in our tech that significantly reduce the industry’s harmful impacts.
This article explores how we can reduce our environmental impacts by supporting eco-friendly electronics that take advantage of new innovations in technology.
Longer Life, Less Waste
The use of household electronics is on the rise, and with them, e-waste. Experts predict that the amount of e-waste will double by 2050, and will exponentially increase in the following decades. The major problem with e-waste is that a large portion of our electronics is non-recyclable and even hazardous.
Many of our electronics, including our phones and laptops, are made with heavy metals that can cause severe environmental damage when released. These materials are safely contained while our devices are intact, but when we send our gadgets to landfills they are oftentimes compacted or incinerated. Despite regulations that keep our electronics safe from hazardous materials, sending electronics to landfills can leak harmful chemical waste into the air, water, and soil.
One of the most efficient ways to reduce our contribution to worldwide e-waste is by purchasing electronics built to last. A growing number of tech companies, including Apple and Amazon, offer refurbishing services that help our devices avoid the landfill much longer.
Additionally, international standards like the CB Scheme help producers measure the quality of their products through longevity, durability, and sustainability to provide safe, long-lasting electronics.
Innovation in the Electronics Industry
E-waste is an unavoidable part of electronics, and while reducing our overall waste is an important step towards sustainability, reducing hazardous waste is critical. Innovations in the electronic industry have led to new technologies that don’t rely on harmful chemicals and heavy metals.
Many laptop companies, including Lenovo and ASUS, have committed to improving the sustainability of their products, from eliminating lead usage in their motherboards to exploring the use of biofuels. Not only do these innovations make electronics safer to discard, but also makes them safer to produce.
The production of traditional electronic materials requires intensive resource extraction of heavy metals and ores. These processes lead to significant environmental degradation, like ocean acidification from leaching chemicals and contaminated soils that affect human health and the environment.
In addition to fewer hazardous chemicals, innovations in the technology industry have made our electronics more energy-efficient than ever. While there’s still room for improvement, many major tech companies are looking for new ways to maximize energy efficiency in their products.
Innovations in energy efficiency reduce our energy consumption, while other innovators are looking to new fuel types. Solar-powered phones are currently in the works at several tech companies, including Samsung, which would significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuels to power our devices. Solar-powered chargers have been available for years, offering solar-based rechargeable battery storage for our phones and other electronics, but the introduction of solar-powered phones would give access to more readily-available, renewably-powered devices.
As our dependence on electronics increases, it’s vital that new innovations make our technology sustainable. By reducing waste and improving energy efficiency, our electronics can continue to give us the valuable services we depend on without posing a risk to our planet.