The demand for electronic devices has grown exponentially in recent years. This demand is fueled by new technologies and our dependence on connectivity in our personal and professional lives. Constantly replacing old electronics with the latest technologies create a new problem: an increase in e-waste. E-waste is a global challenge and requires a multitude of creative solutions. We must try to find how to recycle old electronics responsibly. This means proper disposal and diverting e-waste from landfills. This article will answer the following question: “what should you do with your old electronics?”
What is E-Waste?
According to the 2020 UN Global E-waste Monitor, e-waste is the world’s largest waste stream globally. E-waste often contains materials that are toxic to human health and the environment, and very little is recycled. E-waste also contains valuable materials, such as cobalt, lithium, palladium, copper, and gold. However, the value of these materials is lost when it is not recovered through proper recycling channels.
Why Should We Recycle Our Old Electronics?
Recycling is important to avoid raw materials and use existing resources. With the growing amounts of waste all over the world, recycling places less strain on the environment. However, recycling has yet to be widely practiced when it comes to electronics. For electronics, recycling is important because:
- Source of raw materials: Electronics contain very precious metals. Unfortunately, only about 15% of these precious metals, like gold, are recovered from e-waste. Recycling can allow for more of these resources to be recovered and reduce dependence on mining.
- Solid waste management: The short life cycle of electronics, their obsolescence and the continuous upgrade has resulted in a big landfill problem. Through recycling, solid waste can be better managed by ensuring all recyclable parts are recycled.
- Proper processing of toxic materials: Electronics contains hazardous materials like mercury, chromium, and cadmium. While most of these cannot be recycled, they can be better disposed of to prevent their release into the environment.
What are the Solutions for E-Waste?
The first line of defense in minimizing e-waste is to reduce purchases of new electronic devices. Think twice before buying a new electronic gadget when an upgrade or new device becomes available. Electronic recycling is vital in improving the state of the environment so here are some practical and available recycling options:
- Donate to a non-profit, library, or school: It is the easiest and perhaps most effective way of recycling electronics. By donating, you give another chance for further use. This option is most feasible if the equipment is still functional and in good condition. Non-profit organizations, especially those that cater to youth or low-income groups, are places to consider donating to.
- Search for a recycling center near you: If your electronic devices are no longer functional and you cannot donate them, the next option is to take them to a recycling center. These are drop-off points where you can take the equipment and they will be disposed of correctly. Recyclable materials will be extracted from the electronics and what cannot be used will be discarded the right way.
- Join electronic recycling events: Some recycling companies hold public sales to increase awareness and improve the amount of electronic recycling in different areas. Through a simple search to find one near you, drop off your old electronic equipment and they will take care of the rest.
- Find corporate take-back programs: Some companies help save the environment by providing their users with a platform where they can unload their used electronics. These companies can then refurbish the equipment and donate or they can recycle them.
So instead of throwing your old electronics away, recycle or resell them to make some money. For damaged equipment, you can go through the different recycling options listed above and choose the one that works best for you.
The following tech devices can be reused, repurposed, or recycled:
- Laptops & Tablets
- Cables & Chargers
- Cell Phones
- DVD or Blu-ray Players
- Game Consoles
- Headphones & Earbuds
- Wearable Gadgets
- Cameras & Camcorders
- Office Equipment
In case you are not sure of how to recycle a specific type of electronics, some phone numbers have been established where you can call to get advice on recycling and disposal of electronics.
Important Note About Deleting Personal Information
Keep in mind that before donating, passing on, or recycling a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other electrical device, make sure your personal information is removed. Deleting files, reformatting, or restoring the operating system to factory settings is not sufficient for PCs and Macs so make sure to use a disk-wiping program.
We hope this article helps you understand what you should do with your old electronics and step by step, we could reduce the amount of e-waste all over our lovely planet Earth.