With technological developments being made every day, there is an increase in electronic waste. This can be problematic when considering that most people don’t know how to properly dispose of these items once they use up their shelf lives. Improper disposal is often illegal as it can harm the environment, not to mention the risk of identity theft that could occur from items being left in trash bins. Many realize the repercussions that may result from improper disposal, yet they don’t know the best methods for recycling. This article will explain the dangers of e-waste and educate consumers on the best ways to dispose of their old devices.
What is Electronic Waste?
Electronic waste includes devices like old computer equipment, stereos, televisions and mobile phones. Although it is recommended that these items be refurbished or recycled, a large amount of them still end up in landfills or just sitting around people’s houses for years after they are no longer useful. This is due to low recycling rates, a lack of convenient recycling options and consumers who are still not aware of the best ways to recycle their old devices. As a result, a very low percentage of electronics end up becoming recycled.
Why is It Important to Recycle Electronics?
Here are some reasons why it is essential to recycle electronics:
- Electronics are a rich source of raw materials. The precious metal gold is found in e-waste, yet only 10-15 percent of the mineral is recovered while the rest is lost. The precious metals found in e-waste are estimated to be 40-50 times richer than those of the ores mined from the earth, according to the United Nations.
- Recycling electronics can also help manage solid waste which has been on the rise due to the growth in the electronics industry along with the short product life cycle of many devices.
- Electronic devices contain toxic substances like mercury, cadmium and chromium. They may also contain other heavy metals and potentially toxic chemical flame retardants. It is important to make sure these materials are processed properly so that they are not released into the atmosphere.
- Because of the uncontrolled movement of e-waste post disposal, they are likely to end up in countries where primitive approaches to recycling have resulted in health risks to residents who have been exposed to the toxins. This is a problem that continues to be concerning.
How to Recycle E-Waste?
To prevent the issues caused by improper disposal of e-waste, recycling is essential. The options available to you may vary depending on where you are located. In the case of computer equipment, donation may be your best option. There are many companies that will accept old computer equipment as long as all personal information is eliminated from the device. There are also many authorized recycling locations, electronics recycling events and corporate take back programs. These may appl,y not only to computers, but cell phones and batteries as well.
Certain e-waste items may be okay to throw in the trash. It depends on where you are located and what your state legislation dictates. However, some cities may have policies that do not allow e-waste, even if the ban does not exist at a state level. This is why recycling is always the safest bet. If you do choose to recycle your electronics, make sure the recycling facility you choose ais certified through voluntary certification programs that have been established to ensure responsible recycling.
E-Waste Recycling Legislation
Recent legislations shows 25 states have established a statewide electronic waste recycling program. There are two commonly used basic models for e-waste disposal. One is the extended producer responsibility model which is used in 24 states. Here, the manufacturer takes responsibility for the waste by paying to collect and recycle the products covered under law. The products covered may vary from state to state.
The second type of program is called the advanced recycling fee model. With this system, consumers pay retailers a fee that may range from $6-10 at the time of purchase. This fee is then deposited into a statewide recycling fund.
Recycling e-waste products is helpful for the environment, can help manage solid waste, prevents hazards for international workers and can even help preserve precious metals. Though recycling may not be as convenient as it should be, state legislation is making increased efforts to provide the means to safely dispose of your devices, no matter where you are located. If you have e-waste, it is important to do your part to make sure your items are disposed of in the proper manner.