Everyone understands the importance of recycling, but do you realize how many everyday objects can benefit the earth from being recycled?
The insatiable demand for electronic equipment is creating the fastest-growing waste stream in the world.
Every year, 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics are discarded worldwide.
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.
Much of what is referred to as “e-waste” is whole electronic equipment or parts that are 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 as well as immense value through electronics recycling. This leads to significant economic prospects without constituting risks to the environment and life.
How Much of Electronics are Wasted?
A large number of electronic devices are wasted annually. People in the United States dump phones containing over sixty million dollars in gold and silver every year.
While 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics are trashed worldwide every year, 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
Although electronic waste contains toxic and hazardous waste materials such as antimony, chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury, and many others, they still contain valuable, recoverable materials.
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.
When we properly process e-waste through electronics, the valuable materials can be sold for a profit and turned into something new.
Recycling these materials can also help to conserve natural resources and reduce the amount of energy required to produce new ones from virgin resources.
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.
Electronic devices should be refurbished, recycled, and reused whenever possible.
How Business Owners can Help the Environment
There is a great need for businesses or companies to take an even more proactive approach in their practices to help the environment.
One thing companies can do to help the environment is to focus on what their business and team can do together to increase their electronics recycling effort.
Many businesses are increasing their recycling efforts on their own. While some do this for economic benefits, others increase their recycling efforts to boost public relations.
Business owners should work actively to redefine what corporate responsibility means to them. They should not ignore the reality of how their efforts can save the environment from many toxic materials or how their 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!