Solutions: High-Tech and the Digital Realm

Summary——————–Overview——————–Solutions

INDIVIDUALS
  • 5★Advocate for high-tech related large-scale solutions.
  • 4★Don’t buy devices you don’t need. It’s the easiest way to reduce. This includes IoT devices that require an internet connection, rare metals, and energy.
  • 3★Reduce your load on data centers and networks. With the recent boom of social media, video calls, and streaming services, it’s becoming easier and easier to transfer loads of data across the world. Minimize your impacts by avoiding video-heavy social media, turning off video during calls, and reducing streaming. There are many more solutions of varying effectiveness, like reducing storage space on the cloud, sharing cloud space instead of having identical copies of the same files, clearing useless files/data, and avoiding useless communications [e.g. unsubscribe from mass emails].
  • 3★Purchase used or refurbished devices. That includes second-hand, but also third, fourth, and so on. Aim for long-lived devices that have replaceable components for the best results.
  • 3★Repair devices. Try to fix devices or find someone that will. If it can’t be done, then recycle.
  • 2★Make an inventory of your devices. Update this list often to see how it changes over time.
  • 2★Get rid of devices you don’t use. To extend a reusable device’s lifetime, sell or donate it. If the device isn’t reusable or fixable, then it should be recycled.
  • 2★When the first 2 Rs aren’t possible, take advantage of good e-waste recycling systems. Not everyone is blessed with good recycling programs, so make sure to use them. Ensure the recycling facility doesn’t just ship the e-waste abroad. 
LARGER SCALES
  • GovernmentsImplement a carbon tax for high-tech production and disposal. A higher carbon tax will make high-impact products less desirable and increase the value of carbon credits. Increased focus on acquiring carbon credits within the waste management sector can increase diversion rates, improve recycling efficiency, and disincentivize international e-waste exports.
  • Governments: Incentivize businesses to “reduce by design” with improved policies. Disposal-friendly design can help businesses produce durable, resource-efficient, reusable, and recyclable products. Extended producer responsibility, taxes on single-use products, and bans on wasteful packaging schemes are 3 policy changes that can incentivize more sustainable business practices.
  • Governments: Improve policies to facilitate the ‘right to repair’. Better policies can ensure that individuals and repair shops have the knowledge required to repair products. Lower repair costs will encourage reuse and lower demand for new products.
  • Governments: Improve policies to set common standards on a range of high-tech products. Better policies can ensure that products from different brands are compatible. This will reduce production and disposal impacts for a range of high-tech products, like phone chargers or EV charging stations.
  • Governments: Ban international e-waste exports to countries with weaker waste management systems. Unless receiving countries are specialized in recycling for a specific type of material, sending e-waste abroad just results in increased emissions and overall pollution.