We aim to reduce the amount of e-waste, repair and reuse as much as possible and efficiently recycle the rest.
E for Good Co-Founders
Melinda Watson and Julia Hailes – co-founders of E for Good. “We’re passionate about e-waste and we’re determined to sort out many of the associated environmental problems.
Everyday items like irons, hairdryers, toasters, kettles and vacuum cleaners are part of the mountains of e-waste created by our throwaway consumer culture.
Plugs and wires are frequently cut off electrical appliances so that cowboy recyclers can make a quick profit from the raw materials they contain. However, this destroys the potential for reusing the product.
Working Products Thrown Away
One of the most shocking things is seeing piles of flat screens, many of which are in perfectly good working order – in the UK there is an average of 3 TVs per household.
Computer use has exploded in the last 10 years, and the average life span of a computer has shrunk from 4 - 5 years to 2 years.
Drastically Increasing Smartphone
Between 2009 and 2010 sale of smartphones increased by nearly 50%. We’re planning to carry out a survey of school children to see how many phones they have owned and how long they’ve had their most recent model.
From an environmental perspective LED screens come out on top. Plasma screens on the other hand use huge amounts of energy – as much 10 times more. LCD screens contain toxic heavy metals such as mercury.
When you buy a computer or a printer in the UK it always comes with a cable whether you need one or not. If we’re lucky, the copper from the discarded leads will end up being recycled and sold back to China to make more leads that we don’t want – it’s bonkers!
What ‘WEEE’ Waste
The WEEE man (WEEE stands for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment) was built in 2005, from e-waste. He represents the total amount of e-waste any one person would throw away in their lifetime. If he was built today he would be more than three times the size.
Crooked Illegal Exports
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has delved into the UKs murky e-waste underworld, and discovered that e-waste is still illegally shipped to Africa. They unearthed crooks who were trading in discarded TVs, computers and other electrical products which they’d acquired from local councils.
Who Pays The Price?
Much of the e-waste exported to developing countries ends up in waste dumps where poor people, including children, to scavenge in the toxic debris. In some cases they’re burning wires and other equipment to extract valuable raw materials - the health consequences of this are dire.
Campaigning For Change
In setting up E for Good, Julia and Melinda have been supported by Sean Feeney, CEO of Environcom, one of the biggest e-waste companies in the UK. He is a non-executive director of E for Good and has helped develop ideas, provided seed funding and is a key part of creating an e-waste exemplar.