A solution to Reducing E-Waste, Increasing Equity in Brazil is Reimagining the Smartphone Industry
Posted By : Fiona Fernandes | Date : Sep 25 2021 11:46 AM
Brazil ranks fifth amongst countries producing the most electronic waste, according to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 report by the World Alliance for the Statistical Control of Electronic Waste. The possible solution is to reduce electronic waste and simultaneously extend the lifetime of devices in the consumption cycle, the sale of used electronic devices.
The e-waste report reveals that Brazilians discard much more electronic waste per inhabitant, as compared to the global average: In 2019, for example, 2.1 million tons of electronic waste were produced in the country — equivalent to 10.2 kg per inhabitant. By comparison, in the same period, the world generated 53.6 million tons of electronic waste — an average of 7.3 kg per person. Of this amount, only 17.4 percent was recycled. Subsequently, the report estimates that the amount of global electronic waste will reach 74 million tons in 2030 — almost a doubling of e-waste in just 16 years.
This is alarming and needs to be addressed and acted on with immediate effect. If we aim at going on the path in the direction of a sustainability and reasonability in the smartphone marketplace it would be through the sale of used devices. Approximately 75 percent of emissions linked to a smartphone can be credited to the manufacturing stage. But if we are able to extend the life of these devices by 4.5 years it could reduce the emissions to half its existing values.
Conventional ways of selling used smartphones, such as marketplaces and social networks, have historically been inefficient, explaining the low rate of resale. They need to work on solutions for sellers, the process involves negotiation with several unknown buyers — while for buyers, there is no guarantee of device quality and payment security.
Through a better user experience and focus on quality, companies could make the resale market more attractive to consumers, encouraging them to both recycle their old phones and buy refurbished ones when they decide to upgrade. This circular approach reduces manufacturing emissions and electronic waste, while still providing high-quality customer experience.
Beside the reduced environmental impact of modifying e-waste, the used smartphone ecosystem makes ownership more accessible; and the presence of a structured platform for this purpose creates a reliable environment for the purchase of used devices. In turn, it allows a greater portion of the population to have access to smartphones and other electronic devices — fostering digital inclusion, given the low accessibility of new devices in Brazil.
Our environment and society depend on the creation of a more sustainable approach to the electronic device industry. Through a complete ecosystem offering safety and convenience to customers, companies must ensure that a greater number of people have access to technology, while the environment is protected. Thus, business shift to reimagine the Brazilian smartphone industry will help create a more sustainable future, well beyond the industry.