One way to tackle e-waste is to repair devices rather than throw them out. More companies are doing just that, from recycling solar modules to renting out second-hand smartphones. Their goal is to reduce e-waste and protect the environment.
Experts predict that by 2030, more than one million tons of solar modules will end up as waste in Germany alone. With his company 2ndlifesolar in Hamburg, engineer Martin Wilke wants to ensure that as many of these discarded modules as possible are recycled, for example as a small-scale solar panel system on a balcony. The company also recycles the raw materials in the discarded modules, such as silver and silicon.
And in the French city of Strasbourg, Elie Assémat is working to eliminate e-waste altogether. He’s the co-founder of the cooperative Commown, which has been renting out smartphones, computers, and headphones since 2018. Assémat is primarily concerned with sustainability and promoting product longevity.
India, meanwhile, has become a dumping ground for e-waste from all over the world, including illegal waste from Europe. Tens of thousands of people make a living from processing and reselling e-waste under dangerous working conditions. Swiss environmental scientist Dea Wehrli wants to tackle the problem with a project called E(co)work. It allows Indian scrap metal workers to rent a work or storage space that is safe and in line with regulations.