Press release 2019-09-09

IVL releases book about electrical waste for high schools

Mobile phones, televisions, appliances and computers are some of the products most commonly found in waste streams around the world, and they are on the increase. Every year, about 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is discarded, and along with that a vast amount of valuable metals. IVL discusses e-waste issues and possible solutions in a popular science book for high schools.

– Our goal was to set forth facts and figures capable of involving both teachers and students and to inspire them to engage with sustainable solutions, says Jurate Miliute-Plepiene, project manager and waste expert at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

The book introduces and ventilates a wide variety of issues: rare and critical metals, circular economics and the social and environmental consequences of extraction, production and waste management. The text is based on an ongoing EU project, E-mining@schools, which sets out to raise awareness of problems around our electronic gadgets, but also attempts to stimulate ideas and create business opportunities able to contribute to sustainable solutions. The project group has also worked together with the public and at some schools with lectures and the e-waste collection.

Pollution from the Serbian copper mine in Bor. Photo: Philip Peck

Large amounts of gold, platinum, copper, cobalt and aluminium – to name just a few metals – are buried in landfills or incinerated. Supplies of even rarer elements such as antimony and indium, indispensable for the manufacture of batteries and solar cells, will dry up within a few years if the demand for them continues at the same rate and no new deposits can be located.

Today, these metals can be found in all our homes, tucked away in drawers.

– We need to be better at submitting end-of-life electronics for reuse and recycling. But above all, we must consume in a more responsible way, take proper care of our possessions and not buy new ones as soon as we start to get tired of what we have. On average, we upgrade our mobile phones after one and a half to two years of use, technically these devices are often capable of lasting for at least five years, says Jurate Miliute-Plepiene.

Download a PDF version of the book E-waste and raw materials: From environmental issues to business models

For more information, please contact:
Jurate Miliute-Plepiene, jurate.miliute@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 67 20