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New Research Reveals Alarming E-Waste Habits Among Gen Z


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In a world increasingly dominated by technology, electronic waste, or e-waste, has become a pressing concern.

A recent study conducted by Hubbub and Virgin Media O2’s Time After Time E-waste Report unveils some alarming statistics about the recycling habits of young people aged 16-26. This report, in collaboration with the environmental think tank Green Alliance, serves as a wake-up call, shedding light on the need for increased awareness and action in addressing the issue of e-waste.


Alarming Findings


The report reveals that 45% of young people within this age group have never recycled a phone, and an additional 38% have disposed of their phones in general waste. These statistics underscore the significant gap in e-waste recycling practices among the younger generation. As our world becomes more reliant on electronic devices, it is crucial to address this pressing concern promptly.


Trust and Awareness


Among the survey’s respondents, 51% expressed trust that electrical items get recycled when given to a recycler. However, 25% were unsure, and a concerning 24% did not believe their devices received proper recycling. This indicates a notable gap in trust between consumers and the e-waste recycling industry.


The report recommends that industry figures focus on building trust with consumers through authentic communication about e-waste. Additionally, better education on how to keep phones in use and when to recycle a device is needed to bridge the awareness gap. The importance of effective communication in reaching the younger generation cannot be overstated.


Improving Accessibility


The study also highlights that young people are more likely to recycle their devices if they know about the available services and find them convenient to access, such as in high street locations or via supermarkets. An astonishing 21% of respondents admitted being deterred from recycling a device due to a lack of awareness about how to do so.


Embracing Second-Hand Devices


Surprisingly, the research found that 16-26-year-olds are more likely to purchase second-hand devices. A remarkable 45% of respondents reported buying refurbished or second-hand phones, and 44% received a second-hand phone from a family member or friend. However, the study reveals that concerns about the quality of refurbished devices, such as battery life and data security, remain prevalent.


Call to Action


Gavin Ellis, Co-Founder of Hubbub, emphasized the need for increased support, stating, “They’re savvy and keen to do the right thing, but it’s evident they need much more support to do this, including receiving information on the subject in a tone or format that speaks to them.”


Green Alliance has put forward a series of recommendations aimed at government, manufacturers, and local authorities to address e-waste comprehensively. These include building repairability into devices, mandatory warranties, better labeling and information for consumers, and tax changes to make repair and purchasing second-hand devices more financially appealing.


Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub’s Time After Time Fund, launched in 2022, is already making strides in supporting projects aimed at tackling e-waste and promoting circularity. This initiative signifies a positive step toward a more sustainable approach to electronic devices.




The Time After Time E-waste Report serves as a critical reminder of the e-waste challenge we face, particularly among young people. Addressing this issue requires collective efforts from individuals, industry stakeholders, and policymakers. Together, we can create a more sustainable future for our electronic devices and reduce the environmental impact of e-waste.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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