Too Many Electronic Devices Piling Up?

5 Ways to Minimize Your Electronic Waste

Article contributed to e-End, by Christine Andrews

 
A Collection of used Circuit Boards.

A Collection of used Circuit Boards.

 

Electronic waste, commonly known as e-waste, is at an all-time high and you can do something about it today.

After China banned solid waste disposal (including e-waste) in 2017 and other Southeast Asian countries followed suit, the increasing problem brought about by waste from electric and electronic equipment is becoming more apparent across the globe. 

The USA is one of the top producers of e-waste in the world with 6.3 million tons created in 2016 – accounting for a whopping 14% of the 44.7 million tons generated globally that year. This roughly translates to 21.9 kilos of e-waste generated per person – one of the highest in the world. 

Here are 5 things you can do today to minimize your own electronic waste

1. Repair Whenever Possible

Opting to repair a piece of electrical equipment instead of buying a new one is the best method to cut down on e-waste. A landmark study by the United Nations in 2017* listed rapid innovation and the fast turnover of devices as some of the major culprits in the growing amount of e-waste this planet is having to contend with. This is due to the lifespan of devices getting shorter, with an average American replacing their device every two years. 

IT repairer at e-End preparing computers for reuse.

IT repairer at e-End preparing computers for reuse.

With laptops and smartphones becoming less and less modular and repairable, we’re looking at even higher volumes of e-waste in the near future. Not only can repairing that TV or device help in reducing e-waste, it can save you money and time picking out a new one.


China collection of CRTs2 - LIU AIGUO - IMAGINECHINA.jpg

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2. Reuse or Donate

E-waste leaves a high carbon footprint since electronics are made with intensive labor and resources. So if you really need to upgrade, consider donating the old ones or re-purposing them. 

Instead of throwing your cellphone out, a freelance writer for the blog site, How Stuff Works, Nathan Chandler wrote the article, “5 Ways to Donate Your Old Smartphone or Cell Phone to Charity” He suggests you donate it to a worthy cause. Specialize electronic waste companies, like Secure The Call turns them into community emergency phones. Additionally, there’s Cellphones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization which enables our troops to call home.

laptop donation to veteran.jpg

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3. Dispose Properly

E-waste contains huge amounts of toxic materials that not only threaten our planet but our health as well. Unfortunately, only 22% of e-waste in the country is accounted for and managed properly.

A recent study published on NCBI** reveals that exposure to e-waste leads to health hazards including muscular-skeletal problems, decreased lung function, and adverse neonatal outcomes among others. The lack of transparency in e-waste management in the U.S. poses a public health risk to Americans. This is in line with a Maryville University prediction focusing on the U.S. health industry that estimates 164 million Americans will be affected by chronic illnesses by 2025. With many people exposed to toxic e-waste also living with long-term illnesses, being mindful of disposing e-waste via the proper channels is doing your health a favor too.

4. Recycle Responsibly

Participate in local recycling drives. Initiatives like the recent Cumberland County Recycling Event was hosted by the Cumberland County Vector Control of Mechanicsburg, PA and run by e-End, a local Frederick, MD electronic recycling company. E-recycling companies like e-End make sure that e-waste is brought to their specialized waste management facilities. There, they dismantled and salvaged materials to greatly reduce its impact on the environment and the social economy. The Climate Institute asserts that when properly recycled, only 10% of the greenhouse gases of e-waste are released.

e-End employees stacking small printers during an electronics recycling collection event.

e-End employees stacking small printers during an electronics recycling collection event.

5. Reimagine change

Call for greener and recycling friendly industries and legislation. Unfortunately, only 25 states in the country have e-waste management laws. While there are federal policies in place, it’s not enough to make a dent in this worrying e-waste problem. 

With higher and higher stakes, we should do everything we can to minimize our e-waste. 

Arleen Chafitz, Owner of e-End, during e-waste discussion at US House of Representatives

Arleen Chafitz, Owner of e-End, during e-waste discussion at US House of Representatives


References:

* Baldé, Cornelis & Forti, Vanessa & Gray, Vanessa & Kuehr, Ruediger & Stegmann, Paul. (2017). The Global E-waste Monitor 2017: Quantities, Flows, and Resources. The Global E-waste Monitor 2017 is a collaborative effort of the United Nations University (UNU) represented through its Vice-Rectorate in Europe hosted Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

This report provides the most comprehensive overview of global e-waste statistics and an unprecedented level of detail, including an overview of the magnitude of the e-waste problem in different regions. The report includes up-to-date information on the amounts of e-waste generated and recycled, makes predictions until 2021, and provides information on the progress made in terms of e-waste legislation. The e-waste volumes are indicative of the recycling industry’s potential to recover secondary resources, as well as setting environmental targets for detoxification.

The report highlights the need for better e-waste data and information for policymakers to track progress, identify the need for action, and to achieve sustainable development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

**Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala, India. NCBI:”Perceived and Manifested Health Problems among Informal E-waste Handlers: A Scoping Review.” Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2019 Jan-Apr;23(1):7-14. doi: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_231_18.


For Additional information on Ways you can recycle your electronic waste from your home and business, contact the experts. e-End is a R2 and NAID certified company with a long standing history of excellence in proper and secure recycling and data destruction services.