Everyone understands the importance of recycling paper and plastic. But education about electronics recycling and it’s positive impact on the planet has a long way to go.
The unending demand for electronic equipment is creating the fastest-growing waste stream in the world.
Electronic waste refers to the trash generated from our excess, broken, and obsolete electronic devices, while the process of recovering reusable resources from this electronic waste is referred to as electronic recycling.
Often, “e-waste” is whole electronic equipment or parts that could be marketable for reuse or can be recycled to recover materials.
However, while electronic wastes constitute challenges to the environment and planet, better e-waste management strategies can offer enormous profits through electronics recycling. This leads to significant economic prospects without constituting risks to the environment and life.
How Much of Electronics are Wasted?
Consumers in the US dump phones containing over sixty million dollars in gold and silver every year. Worldwide, 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics are discarded annually. Unfortunately, only about 12.5% of this electronic equipment is recycled.
According to DoSomething.org, discarded televisions, computers, keyboards, mice, cell phones, peripherals like printers, fax machines, and scanners, totaled about 4.7 billion pounds in 2009.
Reusable Resources from Electronics
E-waste should be responsibly recycled for two reasons. First, electronics waste contains toxic and hazardous waste materials such as chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury. These elements can be very dangerous to our environment. But they also contain valuable, recoverable materials that can be repurposed.
Each electronic device contains precious metals like silver in the solder, gold in the circuit board and copper for connective wires. There are also aluminum and ferrous metals.
Electronics recycling allows us to properly process e-waste. Valuable materials can then be sold for a profit or turned into something new.
Recycling these materials can also help to conserve natural resources by reducing energy usage. By recycling old materials, fewer virgin materials need to be produced.
For example, aluminum and zinc from tablets and laptops can be used for cars, jewelry, metal plates, or art. Batteries from old cell phones can also be used to produce new smartphones and batteries.
How Business Owners can Help the Environment
One thing companies can do to help the environment is to focus on what they can do together to increase their electronics recycling efforts.
While some do this for the economic benefits, others increase their electronics recycling efforts to boost public relations.
Whatever the reason, business owners should work actively to redefine what corporate responsibility means to them. We cannot ignore the reality of how intentional efforts can save the environment from toxic materials or how our actions can push the government to force environmental policy change.
In conclusion, electronics recycling conserves natural resources, recovers valuable materials for the production of new products, reduces pollution, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. It sounds like something we should all commit to!