Scaling A Mountain of Electronic Waste


Staff member
The problem of e-waste is getting bigger & bigger, with dire environmental consequences. Could a sculpture in Cornwall England hold the key to governmental change?

At the 2021 G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall England, in plain view of thousands, stands Mount Recyclemore. It resembles Mount Rushmore, but instead of 4 American presidents’ faces carved into granite, Mount Recyclemore is a sculpture of the seven G7 leaders made from 20,000 discarded digital devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, computers, keyboards, home appliances, and thousands of circuit boards—all unable to be recycled & destined to end up in landfill.

Mount Recyclemore was commissioned by musicMagpie, a tech resale website. Research by the company found that around 79% of the British population does not know what electronic waste (or e-waste) is, while 31% of Britons were unsure or did not believe that e-waste can harm the environment. Last year, the United Nations released a report into the problem that stated that the electronics industry was responsible for 53.6 million metric tons (Mt) of e-waste across the world, up by 21% over the past 5-years. At the current rate, global e-waste will reach 74 Mt by 2030.

Materials such as gold, lithium, iron and copper are lost & need to be mined again to build new devices. The value of raw materials in all global e-waste generated in 2019 is estimated to be $57 billion. Recycling many of these materials can make a significant contribution to the circular economy.

“We need to recycle stuff, we need to make stuff last,” said the artist behind Mount Recyclemore, Joe Rush. “We can’t just throw it into landfill. It’s not just a politician’s problem; it’s a problem that the human race has to deal with.”

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