Electronic devices and other modern technologies have undoubtedly helped improve our lives in several ways. Beginning with the fact that they provide us with far more effective means of communication; the advancement of electronics has also contributed to our ability to access information quicker. However, as more of these devices are manufactured, we are finding that once they approach the end of their “useful life” there becomes an increase in the amount of discarded and recycled electronic waste.
What Is E-Waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste is a term to describe the discarded electrical and/or electronic devices. Mostly items that have reached their end-of-life, used electronics, broken electronics, old & unused electronics destined for recycling and salvage are basically considered as e-waste. Common examples of e-waste include cell phones, tablets, monitors, televisions, hard drives, stereos, and printers. It’s important to note that not all e-waste devices are necessarily obsolete.
This is especially true because today, each person and household owns more electronic devices on average than they did at nearly any other point in recent history. According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the global population disposed of 49 million tons of e-Waste in 2016. This figure is projected to grow to over 57 million tons by 2021. Here is a close look at why e-Waste has become a growing issue:
Improper Recycling Of Old Devices
A large proportion of e-waste is not properly disposed of or recycled. Oftentimes, the recoverable parts of electronic devices are dumped in landfills creating toxic chemicals that can be extremely harmful to the water supply and other parts of the environment. This is due to the fact that many electronics are typically made of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and beryllium, as well as PVC plastic.
Some of the chemicals contained in electronic devices (e.g. flame retardants) can potentially pose a human health hazard. Studies have demonstrated that inhaling these chemicals may sometimes lead to reproductive issues for women (stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, etc.), decreased lung functionality, and increases in the amounts of lead found in the bloodstream.
No Federal Laws Regarding e-Waste
Unlike in other parts of the world, (e.g. Europe) there are no federal laws in the United States that dictate how to properly recycle e-waste. Instead, multiple states have their own laws regarding this subject, and these vary in their outlook on e-waste. One of the many issues resulting from this disassembly relates to the fact that there is no federal-level governing body that can establish national standards for how electronic devices should be manufactured, marketed, and sold. If manufacturers do not take the initiative to make more durable or eco-friendly electronic products, this failure may ultimately exacerbate the growing issues surrounding e-waste.
Problems Coming Up With Innovative Solutions
Another reason e-waste has become such a growing problem is that many organizations and governments around the country (and the world) have struggled to develop innovative solutions to this issue. This includes researching and developing new methods to design more durable electronic devices and ways to discard and recycle these products without significantly harming the environment. For example, Canadian tech company Ronin8 has created a technology that utilizes minimal energy and water throughout the process of separating metals from other materials found in electronics via sonic vibrations in the water.
The benefits of this method include exceptional dust control and the fact that it does not cause emissions. In 2018, Hong Kong’s government introduced a Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) that requires sellers and suppliers of electronic devices to “arrange for delivery of a new item and removal of the used item of the same class on the same day at no extra charge.” There are also simple actions that you, as an individual, can take to reduce e-waste. These include placing the broken components of the electronics you decide to recycle in separate containers in order to prevent toxic chemicals from leaking. Many people tend to simply discard all the parts of a device together and this can easily damage the environment.
Consider Professional Electronic Recycling Services With e-End
Reach out to the professionals at e-End in Frederick, Maryland for more information on e-Waste and why it is such a pervasive issue. 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 clients benefit from sustainable and efficient electronic recycling and data destruction services.
At e-End, we always perform due diligence to ensure that all materials are properly handled and that communication between all parties is clear and effective. We have a zero-landfill policy on all material processed and do not illegally export any products. The types of electronic devices we can recycle include CPUs, monitors, SSDs, modems, printers, and routers, as well as personal electronics such as cameras and DVD players. Call e-End today at (240) 713-5855 or contact us online to learn more about our electronic recycling services.