CES & Sustainability: How Tech Convergence Can Reduce E-Waste

The increasingly fast rate of innovation is best showcased annually at CES. Each year, a new generation of smart phones, tablets, PCs, TVs and countless electronic eye candies are on display. As consumers flock to the latest and greatest in tech offerings, let’s ask ourselves an important and often overlooked question: what happens to last year’s devices?

Think about these single year stats of disposal and recycling from a recent Holy Kaw! infographic:

  • 19,000 tons of cell phones and pagers, with 11.4% recycled
  • More than one million tons of TVs, with 17.3 recycled
  • 423,000 tons of computers, laptops and CPUs, with 39.7% recycled

Does innovation build e-waste?

Once devices are replaced, where do last year’s devices end up? The answer is typically in an e-waste landfill, and the amount of e-waste has grown to millions annually in the U.S. alone.

Moving from “gadgets galore” to “gadget does it all”

As I walked through CES, a common theme struck me -- the convergence of devices. This year I am only traveling with an Android smart phone and an iPad. Between the two devices, I have every work and play tool at my disposal such as camera, video, email, music and my smart home app.

I believe we are moving from a “gadgets galore” to “gadget does it all” model, as I'm seeing more features becoming available on various devices, from remote control toy helicopters that you control with your smart phone to entertainment services being offered on tablets such as FiOS TV.

Curbing E-Waste

Verizon has been combating e-waste with recycling rallies across the country, as highlighted in this video. Since we started our program, we have collected more than one million pounds of e-waste from our local communities, and have committed to collecting another one million pounds of e-waste by 2015.

Additionally, to help curb the amount of e-waste created by mobile phones, Verizon Wireless created a mobile phone trade in program. In just one year, the in-store program collected one million mobile phones, which has helped to keep the equivalent of 140 tons of e-waste out of landfills and 436 tons of carbon dioxide out of the ozone. Verizon customers can also donate old phones to the HopeLine® from Verizon program, which collects mobile devices and accessories to support victims of domestic violence.

What do you think about innovation and e-waste?