It is a well-known fact that electronics are made up of a long list of toxins such as lead and hexavalent chromium and other contaminants such as phthalates and brominated flame retardants. These substances cause health issues like cancer, brain swelling, and life-threatening organ damage. The hard part is these toxic materials are used to create the essential components of today’s technology, making them awfully hard to eliminate! So what can be done?
If you live in a state that requires electronics recycling, you are already recycling your technology, however poorly managed e-waste still pollutes our environment, harms human health, and contributes to human-made climate change often impacting those countries that are the least equipped to manage it.
Informal recycling markets in China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and the Philippines handle anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of this e-waste. In some countries, illegal processing dominates the
e-waste recycling chain, with equipment burnt in open fires or processed with hazardous acids in order to recover valuable metals.
The Problem Is Only Getting Worse
With a growing number of smartphones, computers and tablets piling up in our drawers and collecting in landfills, the United Nations estimates that the volume of e-waste generated worldwide is expected to climb 33 percent by 2017 to 65 million tons. With the majority of technology already not being recycled, this could be a major issue.
The e-waste stream to developing countries only grows bigger and faster as electronics become cheaper, allowing more people to buy them. To make matters worse the tech industry encourages people to buy frequently, offering a new phone every year and providing replacement products at prices equal to or cheaper than what a repair would cost.
How Can You Make Sure Your Electronics Recycling Will Not Harm Others?
There are a few ways you can be sure that what you’re recycling will be responsibly disposed of or even reused, allowing you to be confident your electronics will not end up in the landfill:
1. Make sure your recycler is R2 or e-stewards certified! It is important to recognize that the electronics recycling industry is almost completely unregulated in the U.S. and if there is no certification, there is no guarantee.
2. If your equipment is still reusable, give it to an organization that will give it to someone else.
3. And of course, buy less frequently. By recycling e-waste we can save on greenhouse gas emissions from primary mining, provide green jobs, and create economic opportunities.
At InterConnection, it’s incredibly important to us that we don’t harm our environment and community and instead contribute back to it! Because of this, we are both R2 and ISO 14001 certified. Our mission is to connect communities through access to technology by providing computers to low-income individuals and nonprofit organizations.
Help us see technology used again, not sent to landfills or dumped illegally.
We All Have a Part to Play in the E-Waste Story