Electronic equipment can represent a serious threat to the environment, and the population, if disposed of incorrectly.
E-waste is the fastest growing segment of waste in the industrialized world. It annually demands as much transportation as a line up of delivery trucks halfway around the planet.
Recycling your devices helps you keep your house and enterprise free from e-waste clutter, contributing to a cleaner, healthier, and safer environment. Disposing of e-waste correctly is of paramount importance today. Both as conscious individuals, and as a part of an enterprise, we need to be responsible for the damage our discarded devices are causing to the environment. Responsible e-waste recycling means being careful about where we take our e-waste, understanding who is going to be dealing with it, and making sure we find a reliable channel to the end-of-life (EOL) products.
Standards and certification We may think that we decide to support recycling, and everything goes right. Yet, not every electronics recycler follows environmentally sound practices. For this reason, legislation has been established to differentiate the responsible electronics recyclers and refurbishers from those who are doing illegal recycling that contaminates the planet, and puts human lives at risk.
Recyclers and refurbishers can become certified. An independent third party audits and certifies that they possess available standards on responsible recycling practices. This is highly recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which also encourages all consumers to choose only certified recyclers. The EPA provides with all the needed information on Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers.
Where has all the e-waste gone? If we don't take all the necessary precautions to assure the correct disposal of e-waste, things could get really ugly. To have a clear understanding of the risks that e-waste represent, I insist that you invest 13 minutes of your time watching this investigative journalism documentary made by 60 Minutes. The video shows what happens when recycling is not properly done, and when authorities are involved in masking the truth. Not only the planet and the environment are at risk, but also the health and life of human beings exposed to the toxics. This is what happens when US e-waste illegally travels to landfills in China, where it is illegally dismantled.
How much can be saved The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.”
This is in the US alone. Imagine how much could be saved worldwide. The only requisite is that it has to be done by ethical recyclers.
“For every million cellphones we recycle, we can recover 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium.”
Here it is when responsible recycling takes a special role to avoid that the phones will fall into the wrong hands, and become victims to those who will exploit human beings for pennies in exchange of doing the dirty job, as we have sadly seen in the documentary above.
EBN's recycling challenge There is a big difference between the amount of unused electronics devices, and the number that are actually recycled. According to Nokia’s latest study on the topic, only 9 percent of people recycle their old phones. In fact, about 44 percent of unused mobile devices are sitting forgotten only gaining dust in the bottom drawer, or in an equally forgotten box in the attic; sadly, that's how I have mine. I am sure I am not alone here. This could change if we all at EBN take action recycling at least one unused device this summer. What do you say, are you up to the challenge?