eCycling: The Tip of the Iceberg
As a portlander, I know it’s important to keep unnecessary waste out of the landfills. Most people know recycling is smart, and do recycle things like paper, glass, plastic, etc. However, how many people are properly recycling their old and unused electronics? In the US alone, 3.4 million tons of e-waste is being produced every year, with only 29 percent of it getting reused or recycled according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Wallace).
With this post, I’m hoping to help and inform as many people as I can with ways they can properly recycle electronics like TVs, cellphones, computers, and anything else that runs on a battery and is riddled inside with wires and precious metals (learn about that here and then it’s continued here).
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has determined that Americans own approximately 24 electronics per household, and we can only assume this number is going to keep going up. With all these products in a single household, these devices will eventually break down or go out of date. When this happens, you have a couple of options. When donated, electronics can be resold, extending their life. When electronics can’t be resold, they can be dismantled and the valuable materials inside can be kept out of the waste stream. Also, many manufacturers offer take back programs or sponsor recycling events thus keeping unwanted waste out of landfills.
When recycling, it is important that you choose an eCycling certified recycler. Some recycling facilities will not follow the environmentally sound practices that are required when taking apart electronics, and for this reason it is critical to do your research. To learn more about how to choose a recycler, you can visit this page here: Environmental protection agency.
Why are people reluctant to recycle their electronics?
A survey conducted by Earth911 for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) in 2013 revealed that nearly 60 percent of the 923 survey takers didn’t recycle their old and unused cell phones. The reason behind this is because they either don’t know where to take them to get recycled (30 percent) or they don’t trust that their personal data will be deleted (29 percent).
The president of ISRI, Robin Wiener, pushes people who are reluctant to recycling their old cell phones to go to a certified electronics recycler who says they "guarantee that all personal data in the phone will be destroyed and gives the phone a second life either through the recovery of scrap commodities or refurbishment and use by those in this country or abroad who might not otherwise have access to such technology."
When recycled accordingly, one million cell phones can yield 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium according to the EPA (Earth911).
This post is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about proper recycling. Also I hope it’s being taken into consideration that the survey results dealt with only cell phones. Just imagine what types of metals and materials computers, washing machines, television sets, and even speakers must hold. Becoming educated in ways to dispose of unwanted electronics gets us one step closer to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle worldwide.
Earth911. "Solid Waste Report." Infotrac.galegroup.com. Infotrac, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Nov. 2014. <http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/991/260/31146316w16/purl=rc1_GBFM_0_A347655923&dyn=9!prv_2_0_A347655923?sw_aep=s1185784>.
Environmental Protection Agency. "ECycling." Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - ECycling. Www.epa.gov, 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 6 Nov. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/>.Wallace, Lewis. "Inside the ‘mega-shredder’ Facility That Chews up Old Electronics Read More at Http://www.cultofmac.com/282591/sims-recycling-solutions-mega-shredder/#GXs2bCdJLYMS6MYu.99." Cult of Mac. Www.cultofmac.com. Web. 6 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cultofmac.com/282591/sims-recycling-solutions-mega-shredder/>.