Improving electronic waste management - Matthew Birdzell

eWaste Recycling Equipment

We live in a materialistic, consumerist society; we have so many electronics nowadays that when we use one up (smart phone, laptop, desktop), we don't always know where it's going. Given how many phones are bought in a year and the popularity of more mobile computing, it might be a wonder how we can keep producing them.

But when we've decided we're going to upgrade to the latest Android or iOS phone, or trade in your iPad for the new one, or toss your laptop even if it's just outdated, do you give your probably-still-in-good-shape product to someone else? Throw it away if it has a crack in the screen? You may not put much thought in to it at first, but there are ways to give it new life and/or recycle it.

Have you considered where your phone or laptop goes? Maybe it goes to an electronic waste landfill, where it's pilled up like a huge load of clothes, waiting to be picked apart for components that are worth money. That doesn't sound as sustainable as it should be.

An interesting solution is this material recovery facility, by Washington company Krause Manufacturing. They've come up with an innovative way to separate components of electronics, via a combination of conveyors, shakers, etc, that break and separate elements up for eventual recirculation. This method is certainly a step forward in preventing many devices and computers from merely being tossed in to the trash and buried in a least until its smaller components have been used to their full extent.

Before you throw away your probably-still-in-reasonable-shape iPhone, Android, laptop or tablet, think about giving it away to someone. System reset it and sell it for a cheap price for someone who needs it. Find out who takes donations. Hand it down to siblings or other family, as long as they are responsible with a phone. These are just some ways, including the conveyor, to keep electronics going, saving them from a dirty life in a landfill...until they have no more use.