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US Department Of Energy Launches Prize For Electronic Waste

March 7, 2024
x min read

Electronic waste is a big problem. And it’s only getting bigger. Now, the United States Department Of Energy wants to do something to change it.

What’s happening:

  • The United States Department Of Energy has launched a new competition with a $4 million prize for innovative technologies that can increase the amount of critical materials recovered from electronic waste
  • The Electronics Scrap Recycling Advancement Prize aims to help incubate and prototype entirely new technologies for electronic waste for critical material recovery and recycling

Why it matters:

  • Electronic waste is the fastest growing area of waste globally, with more devices than ever being completely discarded
  • Electronic waste has inherent value due to the materials and metals used in construction, but it requires new critical material recovery and recycling technologies to be able to sustainably extract materials that could then be reused for manufacturing

By the numbers:

  • Currently, about 50-60 million tons of electronic waste is being generated each globally

Going deeper:

  • Venture capital funding has been flowing to startups building new ways to get electronic waste under control, from refurbishing to recycling to critical material extraction

Yes, but:

  • Electronic waste is a challenging problem to solve due to the difficulty of breaking down materials such as lead or mercury that are used to construct electronic devices
  • Electronic waste also contains various toxic chemicals that can cause significant damage to the atmosphere and infiltrate soil if it exposed to radiation or corrodes

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