The Environmental Burden due to the Difficulty of Recycling Smart Devices

In the past decade, the environmental burden of Third world countries from the export of electronic waste, such as electronic devices, computer monitors and electronic circuits, has created serious problems both in the health of the inhabitants of these countries and their environment.

At the end of this decade the problem continues but, in another form, and not so much in Third world countries as in developed countries and now it is not about electronic devices etc. but it arises from the difficulties that occur in the recycling of smart devices. At the same time, electronic waste of smart appliances is increasing worldwide.

by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis

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International Recycling Symbol
Photo & Source by Krdan, Public Domain

The difficulty of recycling smart devices lies in the fact that these contain rare earths that are scarce, very difficult to extract and are difficult to recycle. The reader who wants to know the difficulty of mining rare earth and the environmental burden because most rare earth mining companies do not take protective measures for both workers and environment should read the analysis titled «Global Recession, Trade War and Rare Earths».

UN estimates indicate that more than 45 million tons of smart devices rubbish are created each year. Rare earths that contain many of the accessories of smart devices are recycled with very great difficulty. A smart mobile phone contains many rare earths such as the Indio, etc.

These elements of rare earths are acquired in an extremely difficult and arduous effort, and because of the high costs that companies have in terms of environmental protection, many companies, other than Canadian and American companies, are not receiving appropriate measures to protect the environment. In today’s time only 1% of rare earths can be recycled.

The manufacturing companies should:

1. Manufacture smart devices from materials that are consumables.

2. These smart devices will must accept upgrade and replacement in each part of them and up to 95% of the total build.

3. The parts of these appliances will must be repaired and replaced easily and all of them and their spare parts will must be manufactured from environmentally friendly materials.

4. Have a longer life span (but this will mean for manufacturing companies a smaller size for business cycle account from these smart devices).

5. The manufacturers should provide instructions to the recycling companies of smart appliances, in the best ergonomically feasible way in order the recycling companies to be able to recycle the elements of the rare earths contained in these devices.

Consumers will then be able to make rational purchasing options for smart appliances, thereby further helping to protect the environment and increase the recycling rate of rare earths.

The problems that arise today are due to that the smart appliances manufacturing industry and in general every industry does not follow a specific recycling framework for the products it manufactures.

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