Circular Economy

Mounting e-waste is harming the planet. Here’s how we solve the problem

Most of the world’s electronics are not recycled, posing health and environmental risks. Image: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Callie Babbitt

Associate Professor of Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology

Shahana Althaf

Sustainability Scientist, Yale School of the Environment


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Sending electronics to junkyards or landfills wastes an opportunity to recycle valuable materials inside them. Image: Joe Sohm/Visions of America /Getty Images
A researcher takes apart a smartphone to find out what materials are inside. Image: Shahana Althaf
This dissected tablet shows the components inside, each of which were logged, weighed and measured by researchers. Image: Callie Babbitt
Apple’s new robot, Daisy, can disassemble nine different iPhone models to recover valuable materials that traditional recyclers cannot. Image: Apple
Concentration of hazardous (left) and valuable (right) materials within the U.S. e-waste stream. Image: Althaf et al. 2020

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Related topics:

Circular EconomyPlastics and the EnvironmentMining and MetalsRisk and Resilience


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