Electronic waste: a hidden gold mine
MONTRÉAL, Aug. 5, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – At a time when COVID-19 is causing major disruptions in the global electronics supply chain, the need for a more sustainable, environmentally-responsible approach to manufacturing and reusing electronics has never been greater. In response, Polytechnique Montréal has launched the Canada-wide “Collaborative Research and Training Experience in Sustainable Electronics and Eco-Design (CREATE SEED)” initiative, which will bring together some 20 Canadian and international universities and industrial partners to improve the way electric and electronic equipment waste (also known as WEEE, or e-waste) is reused and recycled, and promote eco-design.
Incessant demand for electronic equipment produces huge amounts of waste, and in 2016 alone, e-waste amounted to 44.7 megatonnes – including 724 kilotonnes from Canada. Although e-waste contains substances that are hazardous to health and the environment, it also contains precious metals that are financially appealing to the recycling industry. As an example, one tonne of mobile phones contains about 100 times more gold than a tonne of gold ore. The CREATE SEED initiative intends to optimize the way valuable materials are gathered from e-waste, while at the same time rethinking how the electronics supply chain functions.