The two studies suggest that technologies such as mobile phones and electric car batteries should be made of copper or gold, so that they can be easily broken up.
Recycling policies should not be limited only to developed countries, while device manufacturers should try to avoid mixing of elements, which are difficult to separate. By doing this, the energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions will be greatly reduced.
According to Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, the needs for metals on a global scale will increase drastically. This means that product designers should aim to develop technologies, which allow easy recovery of the materials used in solar panels, wind turbine magnets and mobile phones once they are no longer in use.
Besides increasing demands, the implementation of this recommendation can solve the problem of disposal of waste. Currently between 20 and 50 tonnes of waste is not recycled and it is dumped or burnt.
As stated in a third independent report by the Gaia Foundation, around 130 million mobile phones are thrown away annually in the U.S, wasting roughly 2,100 tonnes of copper, 46 tonnes of silver and 3.9 tonnes of gold.
It is striking that around 80 percent of the U.S. electronic waste is transported to developing countries in Asia and Africa, which simply turns whole regions into digital dumps.