Electronic Waste: Why is it a problem?
Finding sustainable solutions is the key.

   2023/06/06  |  MMDInnovationHub

Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, refers to any electronic device or component that has reached the end of its useful life and is discarded. The improper disposal of e-waste can lead to hazardous situations such as lead, mercury, and cadmium leaking into the environment, which causes pollution and health problems.

Furthermore, the rapid growth of the electronics industry and short product life cycles have led to a significant increase in e-waste, making it essential to address this problem and find sustainable solutions. One of these solutions, as we will explain later on in this article, is how we have spearheaded a project for “closing the loop” on electronic waste. Nevertheless, let’s dive into the problems surrounding e-waste and what actions TPV is taking to solve them.

How does e-waste contribute to global warming?

E-waste contributes to global warming through various processes. Electronic devices contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can contaminate soil and water if not disposed of properly.

Also, when e-waste is incinerated, these materials release toxic fumes that contribute to air pollution and global warming. Additionally, the manufacturing process of electronic devices requires significant amounts of energy and generates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

green monitors

Closing the loop on e-waste products: A pilot project

In order to combat the potentially harmful effects e-waste has on the environment, MMD Monitors and Displays, a wholly-owned company of TPV Technology, has initiated a pilot project of the PREVENT Waste Alliance. The aim of this initiative was to find a circular solution for the 50 million tonnes per year of e-waste that is mainly shipped to African countries.

By helping fund this initiative, MMD successfully created a business model for monitoring e-waste by using an already successful method for recycling mobile phones: e-waste compensation. This adds a fee to the purchase price of new electronic equipment and it helps finance the collection and safe recycling of monitor materials.

For more information about MMD’s role in e-waste compensation, click here.

Why is most electronic waste not recycled?

Most electronic waste is not recycled due to several factors, including the lack of infrastructure and awareness, the complexity of the recycling process, and the low profitability of e-waste recycling.

Unlike other recyclable materials, such as paper or plastic, e-waste contains various components, including metals, plastics, and hazardous materials, which require specialized equipment and expertise to recycle. Additionally, e-waste recycling is often costly, making it difficult for recycling facilities to turn a profit.

Philips Green Monitors: setting the Precedent for future monitor manufacturing

In an effort to avoid more harmful e-waste products entering the environment, TPV Limited, a brand licensing partner of Philips monitor products, has released two planet-friendly displays.

Apart from all Philips monitors being mercury and lead-free, the Philips 272B1G/00 and 241B7QGJEB/00 for models also are RoHS compliant, PVC/BFR- free, and EPEAT certified. In addition, the green monitor models come in 100 percent sustainable packaging and a fraction of their proceeds go towards the Philips Monitors Forest; which is another sustainable partnership with Forest Nation and the initiative helps replant depleted forests around the world.

For more information about Philips’ green monitors, click here and for more information about Philips’ partnership with Forest Nation, click here.

In what type of countries is e-waste the biggest problem?

E-waste is a global problem, but it is particularly acute in developing countries, where there is a lack of infrastructure, regulations, and resources to handle the growing amount of e-waste. These countries often receive large quantities of e-waste from developed countries, which are shipped under the guise of second-hand goods but are often unusable or obsolete.

The improper disposal and handling of e-waste in developing countries have severe environmental and health consequences. It can lead to soil and water contamination, air pollution, and health problems for workers who are often exposed to hazardous materials without proper protection. Furthermore, the lack of proper recycling facilities in developing countries means that e-waste is often processed informally by untrained workers, leading to inefficient and dangerous practices.

To address the e-waste problem in developing countries, the project with Closing the Loop, spearheaded by MMD, has trained local community members in Nigeria on how to properly dismantle flat screens and how to safely remove the mercury-containing black light tubes, among other hazardous materials.

Projects like these provide a bright future in the grim world of e-waste. By providing compensation for monitors at the end of their life as well as educating communities on how to safely recycle e-waste products, it provides hope that the problem surrounding e-waste will begin to solve itself in a more conscious and educated world.

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