The pandemic reduces e-waste but widens the digital divide
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The report studies the consumption of electronic products in the first few quarters of 2020, and then uses it to estimate future electronic waste. It predicts that on a global scale, compared with a business-as-usual situation without a pandemic, the generation of e-waste will be reduced by 4.9 million metric tons. But the author found that this decline is uneven on a global scale. It is estimated that electronic product sales in low- and middle-income countries have fallen by 30%, while wealthier countries have fallen by only 5%.
“Report co-author Ruediger Kuehr said in a statement: “The so-called digital divide is widening. “In some parts of the world, the ability to adapt to digitalization and earn a living or simply to own and benefit from electronic products is declining.” According to the report, countries in North Africa, West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia will suffer the most. Blow.
On the other hand, high-income countries almost accounted for the increase in global purchases of game consoles, mobile phones, laptops and electric ovens last year. In these countries, it seems that people do give their free time to the screen (and maybe baking).
Tech companies are still trying to profit from the “Hellscape” of 2020. Microsoft and Apple make a lot of cash from games and computers. Samsung made more money last year than the year before. Amazon’s profits doubled when the pandemic began. There is no end in sight when the coldness of technology spending in low- and middle-income countries will end in 2020.
As more and more people buy more digital products, e-waste piles up like a mountain, and may infiltrate harmful substances such as mercury into the environment. E-waste reached a record high in 2019, but only 17% was recycled. Environmental advocates say that extending the life of each digital product, increasing recycling capacity, and making companies responsible for collecting the products they produce are currently the main methods to reduce the environmental impact of technological products, so that e-waste does not damage the environment. , There is still a lot of work to be done.