Like it or not, your home is probably producing a lot of electronic waste (e-waste).

While it can be easier to recycle typical household items like plastics, cardboard boxes, etc., recycling those electronics is a harder task. What happens to your old phone or laptop when you upgrade to that new phone or laptop? Where do those older devices go? What happens if consumers had a real right to repair their electronic goods instead of buying new ones?

Here’s somewhat of an answer: Humans are producing 50 million tons of electronic waste each year. Even worse, that number isn’t getting any smaller. It’s growing. A major contributing factor to the e-waste crisis is that it’s just so easy for people to upgrade their electronic devices and not think twice about chucking them out.

Now, governments and industries are partnering with everyday citizens to change the toss-away habit the electronics industry has created.

The team over at Adepem put together this startling but helpful infographic that demonstrates the immense global scale of e-waste and how right-to-repair efforts can help resolve the issue. To put the problem of e-waste into perspective, we should remember that nearly 100 percent of electronics are recyclable, yet we only effectively recycle around 20 percent of our electronic waste at the moment.

This means that there’s plenty of room to solve this big problem. Luckily, there’s already a movement afoot to get it done.

The Rise of Right to Repair

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Consumers stand to save a lot from better recycling and reuse efforts for electronics, even before counting the environmental benefits.

When consumers shift to repairing and reusing electronics instead of replacing them, the difference in cost can be staggering. For example, a refrigerator averages $290 to repair while it can cost up to $8,000 to replace it with the latest high-end option. When it comes to that washing machine, the average repair cost is around $290 while replacing a washing machine can cost up to $1,000. For your dryer, repairing it averages $180 while replacing it can cost as much as $1,000.

Those are big differences that matter for consumer wallets.

So now that we know that repairing and replacing electronics is often more cost-effective and better for the environment, what’s being done about it?

Many governments, with the support of the electronics industry, are passing right-to-repair legislation that makes it easier for people to reuse and recycle their electronic goods. Meanwhile, all three groups — citizens, government, and industry — are realizing that they each have a critical role to play in reducing electronic waste.

We All Play a Role in Reducing E-Waste

Here’s the big picture: Without everyday citizens recycling and reusing electronics, the problem of e-waste just continues. Without the electronics industry, there’s no easy way for people to recycle and reuse electronic goods. Without governments, there is no big push for businesses and citizens to tackle the e-waste challenge. Reducing electronic waste takes everyone working together to solve the issue.

Here’s the long story made short: Consumers save a bunch of money. Businesses and governments find new ways to cooperate and collaborate. An environmental crisis is resolved without massive, disruptive changes to our economy.

Right to repair sounds like an idea that’s time has come.

Why Right to Repair Matters

This infographic from Adepem depicts the staggering amount of discarded e-waste that we can help reduce, in part, through right to repair efforts.

e-waste infographic
Image courtesy of Adepem

About the Author

Paul Perry is a writer for Adepem, a leading appliance parts supplier. With a background in education and a passion for learning, Paul can be found traveling the globe, keeping abreast of world news and business practices.

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