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Growing E-Waste, Growing E-Waste GHG Emissions


It’s hard for me to admit that I started working with computers more than 50 years ago. However, it was not until 2008 that I had my “consciousness raised” around the concerns that electronics pose in their “afterlife.” Once technology is discarded it is known as electronic waste (e-waste). Technology, including those computers I’d been using for decades, contain a dirty little secret. They contain toxic materials, that if improperly handled or discarded, can harm people and contaminate the places they land. And e-waste constitutes a real and present danger.

In the past 15 years, electronics use has expanded dramatically and so has e-waste. Analogously, the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from electronic waste has expanded. According to research published in Circular Economy in December 2022, greenhouse gas emissions generated by e-waste between 2014 and 2020 increased by 53%. One hypothetical scenario estimated that 19 to 28 million metric tons of e-waste could have been prevented through a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in the useful lifetime of ICT devices between 2015 and 2020 through a “3re” effort – reduce, reuse and recycle.

Much of what gets categorized as e-waste is attributed to perfectly serviceable equipment being replaced by newer technologies. It is widely acknowledged that the best way to reduce emissions from e-waste is to extend the useful life of the devices themselves. And that is exactly what we do at illumynt. When a device can be remarketed as is, we remarket and the proceeds are shared back with the original owner. If it can be repaired and then sold, we do that as well. In addition, we harvest, reuse, or remarket parts and components to extend their useful life too.

illumynt is helping organizations reduce their Scope 3 emissions associated with the end of life of the electronic assets by extending the useful life of their assets we process. Responsible handling of all the electronics we process also protects the people handling the assets and prevents corporations’ data vulnerabilities.

Join me in my continuing blog series as I discuss all things related to sustainable electronics.


Carol Baroudi has been focused on sustainable electronics for more than 15 years and is recognized for her prominent work as lead author for Green IT for Dummies. Carol is a contributing guest blogger for illumynt and consulting to support new sustainability initiatives.

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