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Fixing our massive electronic waste problem

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We created a film in time for Earth Day, with the help of funders Esmee Fairbairn. In this short film, we confront the electronic waste mountain. Globally, we produced 42 million tons of this waste last year. It seems abstract as a number.

The video footage helps make it real. But it is hard to convey the profound feeling of discomfort we felt standing before tons and tons of recently useful things, being swept around, moved and crushed before our eyes. This feeling for us was perhaps only equal to the horror of seeing a clear-cut forest.

In the UK, we fill over 6 Wembley Stadiums full of electronic waste every year. Only two of these stadiums get properly recycled in treatment facilities like that of our kind hosts, Sweeep. And of this recycled portion, we know that almost one quarter is still working or easily repaired.

Recycling cannot save us from the emissions and energy spent in manufacture. Retailers would like to have us believe that closing the material loop is enough. But until manufacture is fully cleaned up, our accelerated consumption and electronic waste mountain represents a serious climate threat.

To learn more, listen to our podcast to learn more about what we call the “shadow impacts” of electronics

We’d like to dedicate this video to Sir David MacKay, former chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who sadly died last week at the age of 48. He was able to raise these issues in the mainstream like nobody else.

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