Microbes – a Greener Solution to E-waste

In our pursuit of the next cool gadget or newer, faster device we’re not always considering the impact that these habits can have on the environment. As we make room in our lives for these new products our obsolete devices needlessly end up in ever larger landfills. What we see as waste actually contains valuable raw materials that can be extracted but current processes used will often require toxic chemicals that further compounds the environmental damage.

New developments in bioleaching is helping to make the process more sustainable and safe. Bacteria and/or fungi can be used to dissolve materials allowing for the recovery of valuable metals. This process would facilitate the recycling of e-waste without the use of hazardous chemicals, large amounts of energy and will result in a smaller carbon footprint. Research groups have already taken steps to bring this process out of academia and into the real world. 

To learn more about this microbe technology check out this article by The Convervsation.

While we do need a greener method of recycling e-waste that is not the sole solution to the problem. We can make a difference right now by first reducing the overall amount of waste produced. This is the reason why Lifespan is a strong believer in the Right to Repair movement. Our environmental philosophy is heavily geared towards reuse of devices as well as recycling. We believe in giving products a second life so that they don’t end up in landfills unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

“Designing devices that are more easily recycled and tackling the throw-away culture that treats the growing problem with indifference are both equally vital in slowing the oncoming tsunami.”

A quote by Sebastien Farnaud, Professor of Bio-innovation and Enterprise, Coventry University.

We think it’s important that manufacturers take steps to make their products recyclable but just as important is accessibility to repair. There has to be means for consumers to fix their own property and to not be forced into replacing their broken or obsolete products when they don’t have to.