How Not Disposing Of Your Electronics Properly Can Harm the Environment
Scan the headlines on your favorite news media on any given morning and you may feel that human beings are a hopeless cause. Death, decay, and destruction are a typical day’s litany, but many would argue that we are indeed making progress. For example, the green movement is alive and well. The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2011 that, although Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash in 2010, we recycled and composted over 85 million tons of this material; that is a 34.1 percent recycling rate! In addition, we have reduced waste generation from nearly 300 million tons to approximately 40 million tons annually. With the explosion of new technologies in recent decades, the need for proper electronics recycling is paramount.
Potential Digital Danger
According to Global Futures Foundation, electronic waste accounts for 70 percent of the toxic waste found in landfills today. This creates 2 environmental issues: valuable metals, such aluminum, are wasted, and electronics often contain hazardous materials, like mercury.
For example, older television sets relied on cathode ray tubes, approximately 20 percent of which contain lead. After the FCC regulated that all televisions must run a digital signal as of February, 2009, massive amount of lead-laden cathode ray tubes headed for the landfills. CRTs are also used in computer monitors, and computer circuit boards and switches contain both mercury and cadmium.
Unfortunately, some of our smallest technological gadgets are the most dangerous, primarily because of their sheer numbers. Cell phones contain some lead, and although they contain less lead than TVs, they may be a greater environmental threat. With new products coming on to the market continuously, cell phones have a shelf life of only about 18 months for the average consumer. That means more than 500 million cell phones—composed of 312,000 pounds of lead—is headed for the landfills. Combine that with the nature of a cell phone battery, originally composed of nickel and carcinogenic cadmium or alternatively created with volatile lithium or toxic lead, and we are quickly poisoning our soil and water reserves.
Ways to E-Recycle
Although our new technology creates new recycling challenges, technology also opens up new avenues for electronics recycling. Consider the following paths to e-recycling possibilities:
• Check the Internet for lists of local recycling centers.
• Contact the store where you purchased the item; many have electronics takeback programs.
• Watch social media for announcements of recycling programs. Many schools and charities have electronic recycling drives, and you can donate your unwanted electronics for a small fee. Electronics are safely recycled; the organization collects a monetary fee, and you gain some extra space that was previously filled with an unused electronic!
If you or your organization is looking for a way to help the community and clean out your storage spaces, consider hosting your own e-recycling event. Research where electronics can be recycled in your area and check out any municipal regulations concerning such an event. Find a well-known location, and then organize your labor force and transportation. Finally, use technology to your advantage: blog, post of Facebook, and tweet all about it.
Recycling keeps our spaces—big and small—livable and functioning.
These tips were brought to you by Artex Environmental, A leading facility offering hard drive destruction and electronics recycling in Toronto, Mississauga & surrounding areas.