The 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change was recently held, raising some interesting questions about e-waste’s role in climate change and what can be done to stem the tide. It takes 530 pounds of fossil fuels and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor. That’s a lot of resources for something which on average has a 3-5 year lifespan.
E-waste is the byproduct of components that make all electronic and electrical products function. When it is time to retire your old technology, all of those components that improved your life so much have the potential of ruining many other peoples’ lives. Most of the componentry in computers contains hard metals and non-biodegradable, toxic chemicals. In 2014, computers and other IT equipment resulted in three million tons of waste—with less than one-sixth of all e-waste collected for recovery, or even disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
The U.S. is the single largest contributor of exported e-waste. When it’s not disposed of locally, approximately 50-80% of e-waste is shipped to less developed countries such as China and India.
Because of this, the people most severely affected by e-waste are not even those who are most responsible for generating it. In a 2009 report, the United Nations Population Fund noted that “the most effective solutions to climate change … will be those that come from the bottom up, that are based on communities’ knowledge of their immediate environment, that empower—not victimize or overburden—those who must adapt to a new world, and that do not create a new dependency relationship between developed and developing countries.”
To stop this, it is necessary to stop passing the buck. We as citizens need to take action and responsibly give our technology for reuse or recycle.
What Can Consumers Do to Improve Things?
Many of us buy these new devices—cell phones, flat screen TVs, tablets, and so on—with little thought to where they might eventually wind up. What we need to do is try to extend the lifecycle of all technology by reusing our current technology. This would lessen the frequency in which harmful chemicals are extracted from the environment and prevent a large percentage of e-waste from re-entering the environment. We can do this by donating old technology to organizations like InterConnection that refurbish technology for reuse and recycle any unusable technology through responsible, certified recyclers.
There are 3 easy ways to donate your old technology to InterConnection:
Find a Drop-Off Location – If you live around the Puget Sound, InterConnection has over 35 different drop-off locations for your retired electronics.
Schedule a Business Pick-Up – If you are a business you can schedule a pick-up time convenient for your office.
Don’t live around Seattle? No problem! – You can mail in your laptops, smartphones and tablets. We will provide you with a free mailing label.