“E-waste” is a term used to describe any electronic or electrical devices that have been disposed of. Equipment that has been used, goes unsold, is broken or nearing the end of its ‘useful life’ are usually destined for refurbishment, reuse, resale, salvage recycling through material recovery, or disposal. These items can even be donated to charitable organizations like Goodwill. However, unfortunately, a lot of e-waste ends up thrown in the trash.
It is important to discard e-waste properly, given that many electronic devices contain toxic chemicals that can harm the environment. According to an Environmental Protection Agency report whose most recent data was compiled in 2014, e-waste represents just 2% of the solid waste stream, although the amount accounts for 70% of the hazardous waste that becomes deposited in landfills.
Common Types Of e-Waste
There are several different types of materials that end up as e-waste, but for now, we will focus on the most common electronic and electrical devices that are most often found around the home. These items can fall under three specific categories: small home appliances, communication & Information Technology (IT) devices, and home entertainment equipment.
Small Home Appliances
Small home appliances such as microwaves, fans, heaters, toaster ovens and personal electric cookers (e.g. air fryers) are all common examples of e-waste. Owners of these items must be sure to check whether any of these appliances have their own specific instructions or guidelines on how they should be recycled and/or disposed of. Additionally, individuals should check their local EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for any regulations concerning the disposal of electronic appliances. Many states in the U.S. have stronger policies against throwing away old appliances such as microwaves, kitchen electronics, and any other appliances containing hazardous waste in with regular garbage.
Communication & IT Devices
Communication devices are smartphones, PDAs, VOIP phones, answering machines, and other communication systems. IT devices are computer equipment (such as laptops, desktop computers, monitors, keyboards, and mice) and Home office equipment (such as printers, scanners, fax machines, and calculators). Some of these devices contain electronic data and personal information, so before recycling any of these items, remember to transfer any files you wish to save to other devices and delete all unwanted files.
According to Statista, approximately 4.7 million metric tons (mt) of small IT and telecommunications equipment and 6.7 million mt of screens and monitors were discarded globally as e-waste in 2019. That number is expected to increase annually by 8% with sadly only 67 countries secured with some sort of legislation to assist with e-waste management.
Home Entertainment Equipment
Devices such as DVD & Blu-ray players, televisions, stereo systems, video game consoles, camcorders & cameras, speakers, and radios all fall under the category of home entertainment. Many of these items are equipped with power cords however for some be sure to remove all batteries before discarding them. Batteries have a high recyclability rate with many potential uses for both their reuse and make-up components. For example, the zinc oxide that is recovered from many alkaline batteries may also be used to make certain plastic and ceramic products.
Other e-Waste Types
In addition there are other types of e-waste items like electronic utilities (such as lamps, remote controls, smart thermostats, electrical cords, WiFi & WiFi Dongles and power strips) and medical equipment (such as imaging equipment, dialysis machines, defibrillators, and heart monitors). There are personal devices like smart watches and FitBits and large exercise equipment (e.g. treadmills). Finally, old and unused network hardware and IT servers once they reach their end-of-life are also considered e-waste.
Improper e-Waste Disposal
When e-waste is buried at a landfill, it can disintegrate into microscopic pieces in the sludge that pervades the site. These traces of toxic materials (mercury, cadmium, beryllium, lead, etc.) can ultimately sink into the ground located underneath the landfill in a process called “leaching.” Water sources found near a landfill may then become poisoned due to the leaching process. Wildlife can also thus eventually become harmed by leaching.
You should also keep in mind that the list of electronic items that are considered “e-waste” may likely include more products in the coming years. This is because technology continues to evolve at an incredibly rapid pace, as companies and manufacturers develop and use sophisticated new tools and methods for producing goods. Federal laws and regulations concerning e-waste practices may also likely change as new and more advanced electronic products are created. Therefore, it’s always important to remain informed about this subject. Otherwise, you may potentially incur fines and other penalties for failing to comply with these laws.
Contact e-End For Electronic Recycling Services
Reach out to the professionals at e-End in Frederick, Maryland for more information on e-waste products and why it is important to adequately discard these items. We are one of the most respected companies in the Mid-Atlantic region due to the fact that we have achieved the National Association for Information Destruction’s (NAID®) AAA Certification for specialized data destruction services. We care deeply about the environment and are dedicated to helping our customers find high-quality solutions to their unique needs.
At e-End, our services include electronic recycling, secure data destruction, equipment, and device destruction, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) destruction services. We are validated by the highest electronic certifications so that you may ensure you remain compliant with federal regulations such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). We have experience recycling both personal electronics and special equipment and devices such as plasma screens, microscopes, X-Ray film and equipment, and radar devices. Call e-End today at (240) 713-5855 or contact us online to receive a quote or to learn more about our recycling services.