As consumers around the globe become more reliant on an ever-increasing array of electrical and electronic equipment, the amount of this equipment reaching end-of-life (e-waste) poses a growing problem. Individuals, businesses, organisations, and governments frequently upgrade their computers, mobile phones, televisions, audio equipment, electrical gadgets, photocopiers, and printers, and discard the old equipment, much of which contains toxic chemicals or materials that are difficult to reuse.
A core principle of sustainable development is the production of goods and services in ways that mimic natural processes, where energy is derived from renewable sources and 'waste' is simply raw material for another product or service. As electronic manufacturers and suppliers strive towards this goal, the evolving concept of 'cradle-to-cradle' production means that anything at the end of its useful life is remade into the same thing, or something similar. Due to rapid technical innovation, this concept is difficult to apply to Information and Communication Technologies. However, many products can be reused or refurbished, and where this is not practically possible, products can be recycled for basic components, particularly metals like ferrous, copper and aluminium or precious metals with positive benefits on raw material extractions and energy demand.
Governments, manufacturers, suppliers, network providers, operators, and users of ICT equipment and services all share a responsibility with other stakeholders around the world to increase the reuse and recycling of electrical and electronic products, wherever their businesses or suppliers operate.