Electronic Waste

Researching this topic because I had to talk about it for my SPCOM223 speech.


  1. It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.[10] the first phone you ever owned? What about your headphones, iPads, watches?


Okay, I know what you are thinking, electronic waste, what is there to even talk about? It’s not like you throw your computer away every single week, so why should you care?

Well, hear me out, but let me ask you a question (put hand in front of mouth). By raise of hands, who here has owned 2 or more phones in total in your life? keep your hand up if you had 3 or more? 4th? 5th

As we can all see, most of the class has owned multiple phones before.

So What happened to your older devices? Did you throw them away, recycle them, gift it to a friend, or simply locked it away in a closet? Because if these devices are not being used anymore, they’ve become electronic waste.

According to a 2020 report by the Global E-waste Monitor)we generate over 50 million tonnes of electronic waste every year. if you were to line up all of this electronic waste, it would be enough to stretch from the Earth to the moon and back 5 times!

All this to say, that is a LOT of waste! So how does this apply to us university students?

Well I believe that us students, as the most active users of electronic devices in our population, we have a very big responsibility in promoting its sustainable use and disposal.

Right now, less than 15% of our electronic waste is getting recycled. We have a lot of work to do. So how are we going to get to 100%?

Well you heard the 3R’s from Jeremy: Reduce, reuse, recycle, which you can also apply to electronic waste, but I’d like to introduce two new Rs: Repair and Resell.

Repairing your devices is straightforward but essential. Don’t buy a new computer if you can just repair it. Do you know that for a computer alone, it takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture. Think about how much resources you are actually saving when you choose to repair instead of rebuy.

Reselling is another great way to gives your devices another life, and even pocket some money. The only problem is, personally, I’ve always hated the hassle of having to sell to strangers online, who might potentially be a scammer.

Thankfully, there are a few other options:

  • There are reliable Online trade-in services like Gazelle and Decluttr will accept older phones and give you cash for them.
  • If you own an old Apple device, Apple can accept it and recycle them on your behalf, and you can get even credits towards your next purchase.
  • And Best Buy is another retailer that will accept items to recycle in exchange for credits.

Instead of reselling, you can also make a donation. Here in Waterloo, you can donate it to GoodWill on King Street. They will resell those devices in their stores and fund community training programs.

Finally, as a last resort, you can recycle your e-waste. Here at the University of Waterloo, you can recycle them at the ECH from Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 4:30pm.

In conclusion, Reducing electronic waste is extremely important, and we all need to work as a team to truly make a difference. Hopefully, today I’ve shed some light on its importance and ways we can reduce our e-waste. Let’s all play our part in helping keep the environment more clean and sustainable, one phone at a time.