Waste from electronics, or e-waste, is a fast growing component of the ever increasing amount of waste produced globally, and its use as a concrete aggregate could cut industry emissions and help divert discarded electronics from landfills. A 2019 study examining the use of e-waste aggregates indicated in some proportions the incorporation of e-waste could improve compressive strength and the flexural strength of concrete beams.
The amount of waste generated globally has increased significantly in recent decades. By 2050, it is predicted that 3.4 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste will be generated globally, a growth of 70% compared to 2022.
Several factors contribute to the generation of waste, including population growth, economic growth, increased industrial activity, and consumer purchasing habits. Significant environmental problems associated with waste generation, such as pollution and climate change, are a major concern for governments worldwide.
Due to the scale of the issue, there is an urgent need for research, regulations, and initiatives to reduce the amount of waste generated. Despite positive progress over the past few decades, however, only around 20% of waste is recycled annually. The majority of solid waste ends up in landfills or is disposed of by incineration.
E-waste in particular is a rapidly growing type of solid waste that increasingly defines the environmental pressures of the electronics industry.In 2019, global e-waste output amounted to the equivalent weight of 250 cruise ships (around 48.6 million tons). In the US alone, roughly 6.92 million tons were produced in 2019. By March 2022, 9 million tons had been generated.
If consumer habits and industry practices do not change, it is predicted that 120 million tons of e-waste alone will be generated by 2050, significantly hindering internationally-agreed net-zero goals.
E-waste is defined as any type of waste from devices that contain power sources such as batteries or cables. Everyday items like refrigerators, smartphones, laptops, PCs, and televisions are classed as e-waste when they are disposed of.