Economy, Environment

Experts urge recycling e-waste to save environment, boost economy

Such waste includes lead and copper, which causes pollution when released into environment, says environmental engineer

Gulseli Kenarli and Aysu Bicer  | 22.07.2022 - Update : 22.07.2022
Experts urge recycling e-waste to save environment, boost economy


Environmental experts have stressed the need to recycle electronic waste -- as in 2019 alone -- the world produced 53.6 million tons of e-waste, with a projected increase of 21% in five years.

"When you throw these wastes in the garbage at random, you are really throwing away a valuable raw material. You endanger its sustainability by polluting the sea, land, and air,” environmental engineer Professor Mustafa Ozturk told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

The UN's e-waste monitoring report released in 2020 stated that only 17.4% of 2019’s e-waste was collected and recycled.

"This means that gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value, recoverable materials conservatively valued at $57 billion — a sum greater than the gross domestic product of most countries — were mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse," the report said.

According to Ozturk, the total amount of electronic waste in Türkiye is around 847,000 tons per year. This contains recyclable and reusable raw materials such as copper, zinc, platinum, lithium, and even silver and gold.

"There are important wastes, such as computers, that must be collected under special conditions, besides the valuable materials in them must be recovered and destroyed," he proposed, adding that computers have memory chips, and if they fall into the hands of criminals, very serious abuses can definitely occur.”

"These wastes include lead and copper, which cause pollution when released into the environment. We utilize lithium batteries, which explode like bombs when they come into contact with air,” he warned.

Sodium is present in some electronic devices and batteries, and it is one of the important substances that will replace lithium in the future, he said.

Recycling companies

Burak Kokturk, the founder of the Association for Supporting the Recycling of Electronic Wastes, stated that 5% of the electronic waste generated every year in Türkiye is recycled by licensed companies.

"The rest of them are either in a corner in our house, thrown away, or go to scrap dealers. Scrap shops transform these wastes in ways that do not comply with the standards," he said.

There is also mercury in lighting equipment, fluorescent lamps and energy-saving lamps, he explained, adding: "When these products go to the scrapyard, they mix with the air, water, soil and pollute our environment."

He noted that recycling waste with licensed companies will both contribute to employment and help the supply chain of the industries in the country, pointing out that raw materials worth €700 million cannot be used every year because electronic waste is thrown away.

* Writing by Aysu Bicer

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