With the corona virus looming outside, the majority of us are spending extended periods of time in our homes cleaning and organizing. During these cleaning spasms, many people discover old furniture, clothing, or electronics that have been buried over the years and are unsure what they should do with them.
Furniture and clothing are among the most popular items donated, but electronics fall into their own category when it comes to the end of their life cycle. Most electronics contain heavy metals and other materials that are toxic to our ecosystems. Thus, R2 Recycling stresses the importance of electronic recycling and how it improves the health of both humans and animals alike.
Rates of E-Waste Recycling
Unfortunately, electronics are improperly recycled the majority of the time. Only a third of the electronics made in the United States are actually recycled, according to EPA. The positive news is that this statistic is getting better, but to really make a difference, the environmental issue needs to be addressed.
Only ten percent of mobile phones in the United States are recycled. This should be an alarming statistic considering that the vast majority of Americans are buying a new phone every year and a half. A great deal of electronic waste is a by-product of the electronic market that pushes people to purchase new consoles every year when the older version is still fully functional.
Improper Disposal of Electronic Waste Hurts the Environment
Many people would be surprised to learn that electronics should not be thrown out with regular household items. Computers and other electronics contain a number of environmental toxins such as chromium, nickel, zinc, barium, lead, and various flame-resistant chemicals. When released into the soil, plants can absorb them which can lead to damage in the kidneys, blood, or nervous system if ingested. A common way toxins are released into the surrounding area is by warming up the electronics in by either incinerating them or burning them in a landfill.
Toxins from e-waste can also seep into groundwater, which can harm aquatic and terrestrial animals, as well as anyone living in the immediate area.
The Process of E-Waste Recycling
Proper e-waste recycling centers around disassembling, separating and categorizing, and cleaning sections of electronics. Mechanical shredders will then break down the remaining materials to allow for further categorization. The breaking down of electronics into their most basic elements requires strict controls to protect the health of employees as toxins are often released.
Unfortunately, not all electronic recyclers are equal as some do not adhere to codes to regulate toxin exposure. Some “recyclers” will ship materials to other countries that have fewer or no regulations pertaining to how hazardous materials should be handled to minimize damage.
Local recyclers will also sometimes strip electronics for the valuable metals, but they are often encumbered due to the safety risks of not having adequate safety precautions.
Many countries in Asia have recently stopped accepting foreign materials to be recycled due to this reason. Thus, it is essential that American e-waste recyclers, like R2 Recycling, step forward to help with the growing amount of electronics being discarded in the United States and help save the environment.
An often overlooked aspect of e-waste recycling is data security. Most people will discard their electronics without properly destroying the data that they contain. It is possible that others will be able to retrieve sensitive information from another discarded electronics. This means that criminals have an avenue for extortion of personal and financial information.
Organizations like R2 Recycling will ensure that all e-waste is wiped clean of all prior data before it is stripped for parts. It is a common belief that deleting information from a hard drive is a permanent way to ensure data security. However, there are methods out there that hackers use to retrieve previously deleted information. Thus it is very important to recycle goods with a company that has a proven track record of data integrity and security.
E-Waste Problem Solutions
Toxins from improper recycling of e-waste is an environmental and health concern. Shipping e-waste overseas to where less strict safety protocols are in place is both unethical and is perpetuating environmental damage.
The most basic solution to the e-waste problem is to reduce the frequency that we are purchasing new electronics. By limiting how often we buy new computers, phones, tablets, or TVs, we are reducing the amount of electronics that are entering the waste stream. This is the simplest and most cost effective way to reduce the impact of e-waste.
Another method of reducing the damage done by e-waste is to repurpose old electronics. With the right amount of updating, most electronics can be given a second wind and be fully functional. For example, most people will discard a phone if the battery dies or the screen cracks, but these are actually simple fixes that can be done by your local tech shop.
If your electronics have really bit the dust and are no longer of any use, the best thing to do is properly recycle them. When recycled as they should be, toxins will be averted from our waste stream, and valuable building materials like gold and tin can be extracted and reused.
Given that we are in the middle of a pandemic that forces us to remain inside for the majority of our waking hours, we might as well clean our living spaces to make them a bit more comfortable. If you have any old TVs, cell phones, or computers, you can call a reputable recycling company so that they can properly dispose of them for you. This way you can rest assured that your electronics are not contributing to environmental damages.
R2 Recycling is committed to promoting recycling as an excellent solution for pollution.Working with a proper recycling company allows people to clean out their closets and sheds without having to worry about their environmental footprint.