E-Waste: What You Need to Know
In today’s world, consumers have become irreversibly dependent on electronic devices. The magic of having the latest tool that can entertain, provide information, and power your work life can be overwhelming. We see new models of cellphone, gaming, and industrial use technology daily, each advertising to be better than the last. While buying new devices can be as easy as two clicks, recycling the devices you currently have can be too much of a headache. What’s even worse are the effects that this e-waste poses on the environment.
What Is E-Waste?
E-waste is any electrical or electronic equipment such as smartwatches, smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, printers, etc. that have been discarded.
Look at how many devices and electronics are currently sitting around you right now that could be considered e-waste. What did you do with the previous devices and electronics before you had the ones you have now?
An Overabundance of Devices
In recent studies, the number of connected devices in an average American household has increased to more than a dozen. To stay entertained and working during lockdowns, individuals began buying devices at a record rate. Now that businesses are allowed to open up to the public, the need for as many devices is becoming non-existent. While some electronics have been returned, resold, or bartered off, most are left shoved in a drawer and forgotten about. This could lead to perfectly working devices that end up in a landfill (aka e-waste), polluting the environment. Not to mention money left on the table that could have been in your pocket.
So, what exactly makes most consumer electronics so toxic? Well, the materials that make up displays, batteries, and frames can contain excessive amounts of corrosive elements that will pollute the environment. Lithium ion batteries can cause dirt to become non-farmable, start wildfires if pierced, and cause death in wildlife that ingests them. PCB Boards are found inside most electronics today and are treated with formaldehyde during manufacturing. They can take 1 million years to decompose due to their high durability since they are made out of fiberglass. The printed circuits found on these boards include components that are wrapped in plastic which can also take a significant amount of time to decompose. Lastly, LCD display screens contain chemicals that are altered using electrical signals to show an image. These chemicals have been shown to damage digestive systems if ingested.
Needless to say, e-waste is bad for the environment.
Pollution issues with discarded electronics are not the only major effect we see from the lack of recycling. Manufacturers use precious metals to ensure optimal performance for their customers. These include gold, silver, copper and platinum. Silicon and the aforementioned lithium are extracted from the ground to make up other major components in devices. The rise in demand for consumer electronics has caused major shortages of these resources. Not to mention, the extraction of these metals is not easy for the average recycling company either. Most devices require complicated disassembly and high temperature tools to get to the components that contain these elements.
What You Can Do
Let’s talk about solutions to these issues. While it is my hope that you have learned something new reading this blog, I am more concerned about the actions you will take from your newfound knowledge. The easiest way to keep your device out of a landfill is to repurpose it. Smartphones can be used as security cameras, media players, and even GPS trackers. Televisions are always needed in daycare centers, nursing homes, and entertainment venues. Tablets and computers are now must-haves for students in schools. It’s a simple phone call to your local school district that could put these devices in the hands of those who may be unable to afford them.
How Techcycle Solutions Can Help
Now, here’s my shameless plug: Techcycle Solutions prides itself on its ability to source buyers and sellers of used devices. We are built on a platform that helps you elongate the lifespan of your devices by putting them in the right hands with our ITAD services. You could have cash in your pocket with the peace of mind knowing that those old electronics will stay out of your rivers and wildlands.
Have some devices you’re ready to part with? Here are a couple of ways you can get ahold of us– give us a call at (913) 717-7779 or feel free to email us at ITAD@techcyclesolutions.com.
Author: Jaime Enriquez, Technical Training Coordinator