What is Electronic Waste?
E-waste or electronic waste refers to all electronic devices, surplus, damaged or obsolete, which have been discarded by their original owners. According to the United Nations estimate, the world produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste per year.
With increased access to information technology, there are also challenges in managing electronic products at their end-of-use. Awareness and interest from consumers inefficient new technologies will continue to make old electronic equipment inefficient and redundant, creating opportunities for recycling and re-use of that equipment.
“Anything that has a wire, a plug, a battery or runs on electricity, that you probably aren’t going to use ever again, comprises electronic waste.”
Used electronics are shipped every day from the United States and other developed countries to developing countries that lack the capacity to reject imports or to appropriately handle materials. Even in instances where materials are sent to countries where legitimate processing facilities exist, mishandling still occurs and can negatively impact people and the environment.
In these cases, the electronics are often taken to non-reputable e-waste collection sites or to individual households, where they are taken apart by hand to obtain valuable materials, including copper, silver, and gold. Workers are exposed to high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. Exposure to these contaminants can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage, and diminished IQs.
EPA estimates that, in 2007, US consumers and businesses discarded televisions, computers, cell phones, and hard copy peripherals (including printers, scanners, faxes) totaling 2.25 million tons. Approximately 18 percent of these electronics were collected for recycling, with the remainder disposed of primarily in landfills, where the precious metals cannot be recovered and hazardous substances can leach into the ground and contaminate soil and water”. (Reference source, EPA.Gov)
Why Recycle Ewaste?
Electronic Waste or E-Waste Pollution
Electronic waste containing toxic chemicals and metals such as lead, cadmium mercury, is often disposed of in landfills which then allows entry into the surrounding soil, groundwater, and ultimately, in us. In addition, improper processing of e-waste causes toxicity. Informal processing of electronic waste in general poses serious health and pollution problems. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 6% lead by weight. Up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements are incorporated into e-waste items. Some of the components of e-waste contain materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury, polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), etched chemicals, brominated flame-retardants that are hazardous in nature. Therefore, e-waste should be handled in an environmentally friendly manner to prevent this hazardous material from polluting the environment.
Benefits of Recycling Electronic Waste
(Above the ground mining!)
Electrical waste contains hazardous but also valuable and scarce materials. Up to 60 elements can be found in complex electronics. Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal are avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products.
The environmental and social benefits
Environmental and social benefits of reuse include diminished demand for new products and virgin raw materials (with their own environmental issues); larger quantities of pure water and electricity for associated manufacturing; less packaging per unit; availability of technology to wider swaths of society due to greater affordability of products; and diminished use of landfills.
Prevent E-Waste from going into Landfills
When old electronics are thrown into a landfill, all the energy that directly or indirectly goes into making a product is lost. This means that more energy and water are needed to make new products, emitting more greenhouse gases and using more water. Thus landfilling old electronics also wastes the natural resources used to make a product. Some of the materials used in electronic products are extremely rare and are running out fast.
Recycling instead of creating from scratch results in huge energy savings
Creating secondary raw materials, i.e. recycling, results in huge energy savings. For instance, recycling steel into a secondary raw material uses 74% less energy than the production of the primary product. Recycled Aluminum uses 95% less, Copper 85% less, Lead 65% less, and Plastics 80% less – it’s a win, win, win scenario – we protect precious resources, divert usable materials from landfills and conserve energy all at the same time!
What is the difference between Hard Drive Shredding and Media Destruction VS DOD (Department of Defense Wipe)?
Hard drive and media destruction using the shredding method are the 100% secure way to permanently destroy data.
Some organizations use software to erase their confidential data. Even though these programs can erase data, some just delete directories on the hard drive; the actual data is still there. This data can be restored using another available software, increasing the vulnerability of an organization, exposing it to threats of data theft. Hard drive destruction via shredding is the only 100% secure way to destroy data from a hard drive guaranteeing peace of mind for organizations. Find out how SESC can help you reclaim your peace of mind.
What should I do with my old electronics?
Quick Tips for Easy E-waste Disposal:
Do not just throw away your old computer monitor or a broken phone in the trash; take time to research how you can discard those in the most environmentally friendly way.
Follow the general 4Rs rule; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect
Electronics that are in working condition can be donated to the less fortunate, to schools, and to those who can reuse them
Contact e-waste management and recycling firm such as SESC, schedule a pickup, or drop off your old electronics at our facility at no charge
A simple phone call can prevent your computer from becoming a hazardous item in the landfill and makes you an environmentally conscious, responsible citizen