Defining E-Waste: The Top Reasons Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Recycle

defining e-waste

If someone asked you what can be done about e-Waste, what would you say?

When the subject of e-waste comes up, it’s usually in an environmental context. The image most people have of e-waste is electronics device that are mass produced, like smart phones, and get updated so rapidly that the number of used phones being discarded keeps rising.

Since only about a third of unwanted smartphones gets recycled today, that means most end up in a landfill, creating significant environmental risks.

But e-waste is about far more than just smartphones. Step into an American home or business, and you’re going to find literally tons of highly sophisticated electronic devices of various shapes and sizes.

What connects them is they’ve become enormously popular with consumers and business owners alike because of the enormous conveniences they offer. But they’re also manufactured with chemicals like lead and mercury that are toxic to our soil and water if they’re not properly recycled.

And having a better understanding of exactly what defines e-waste may be a key to helping to boost recycling rates.


What is the Definition of E-Waste?


There are two important things to know about electronic waste, which has been dubbed e-waste for short.

E-Waste has a simple definition: waste – meaning something that’s no longer wanted – consisting of discarded electronics products.

Often times, they’re no longer wanted because the devices are nearing the end of their life cycle or are broken.

But not all e-waste is technically defective. Technological advances have completely altered when people decide they no longer want their current devices.

For example, someone might own a smartphone, laptop or tablet that works fine and serves their needs. But if the manufacturer released a new version that contains exciting updates, a lot of consumers will gladly replace what they’ve got now.

So e-waste doesn’t necessary mean a device that no longer has any use or value.

That’s a key point. Even if a device is no longer has value to the owner, that doesn’t mean it no longer has a useful purpose. One of the most useful is by separating out the individual parts within them so they can be used to make new devices.

A used computer, laptop, cellphone, stereo, copier, fax machine and many other common electronic products can be recycled and reused.

It starts with bringing any unwanted electronics to a recycling firm like Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, where the parts within them can be removed and sold to manufacturers to make new products, which helps hold down the cost during the manufacturing process.


Why is It Important to Recycle E-Waste?


There’s virtually no argument today that e-waste is a growing problem in the U.S. and abroad. Recycling rates for e-waste remains stubbornly low.

More and more e-waste is taking up increasingly precious space in landfill, while potentially leaking hazardous substances into the ecosystems near each one. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans are now discarding more than two million tons of unwanted electronics every year, which sadly is six times higher than the amount they recycle.

It’s been estimated that up to 70 percent of the heavy metals in landfills across the United States come from discarded electronics.

To keep those heavy metals from harming our land and water, recycling is the ideal solution.

And that should be a great incentive for consumers to consider recycling every electronic device they own and no longer want, including smartphones, laptops, computer, microwave ovens, security systems, and so on.

But not all e-waste comes from individual homes. Businesses large and small also generate a huge amount of e-waste, and there’s a difference between asking why consumers should recycle, and why businesses should do the same.


What Is Business E-Waste?


For years, environmentalists have been promoting the idea that “Recycling Saves the Planet” as a means of educating consumers about why it’s important not to throw out their e-waste and recycle it instead.

And they’ve certainly made the case that businesses large and small can win over environmentally-conscious customers by “going green,” and adopting policies like recycling that help promote a cleaner and healthier environment for all of us.

Sounds good in theory, but businesses may be more concerned about profits and shareholders. So the question of why businesses should recycle needs to be approached differently.

A quick look at the website of an online retailer like Office Max shows how differently companies operate today: the term “office supplies” no longer applies solely to pens, notepads and small waste baskets.

Each year, there are more and more high tech gadgets for offices to purchase, designed to make their jobs and the tasks assigned to their employees function more smoothly.

Wireless headsets. Digital voice recorders. Laser fax/printer/copier. Crosscut shredders. Portable color sheet-fed scanners. Expandable cordless phone systems with digital answering. The list goes on and on.

And businesses are likely to run through their electronics far more quickly than consumers do, because they’re being used by multiple people – in some large offices, hundreds – daily.

Most businesses today use a fast-growing number of electronics but may not have a stated company policy on what to do with the old devices once it becomes time to replace them.

Recycling is their best option. It’s easy to contact a company like Great Lakes Electronics Corporation if your office has a decent number of electronic devices that you want to replace, and you can make back some money on those items.

At the same time, you can help make new purchases more affordable in the future if you contribute to reducing the cost of making new products.

When you recycle, your old electronics can:

  • provide raw materials that manufacturers need to make more of those devices;
  • help make future electronics cheaper and more energy efficient;
  • save manufacturers money over the long run;
  • help create cost savings for consumers as well.

Recycling makes sense economically in other ways. Any office manager looking for ways to reduce expenses should compare the benefits of recycling against the cost of having trash haulers remove those items.

And as environmentalists have noted, recycling can be good public relations for a business, since consumers like doing business with companies that share their values.

Recycling e-waste amply demonstrates that a company is doing more than offering lip service to a concept like environmental protections. The more often a company recycles, the more likely it is the public will believe that environmental commitment is a genuine mission statement by your company.

Frankly, it’s smart business management for companies to recycle.


Has “e-waste” Been Clearly Defined?


For consumers and business managers alike, it’s not clear that the term e-waste is widely understood. It’s been loosely applied to consumer and business electronic equipment, but again, e-waste doesn’t always mean a device near or at the end of its useful life.

Devices that still work fine also get discarded if newer versions make them seem obsolete or limited in what they can do.

We do know that the amount of e-waste is soaring globally. A report by the United Nations has warned that the amount of e-waste being produced could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some countries.

Today, society revolves around technology, and there’s an insatiable appetite among both consumers and businesses for the newest and most high-tech products. Unfortunately, that contributes to the mass amount of e-waste we’re confronting.

Everyone should make a commitment to recycle all used electronics — any used devices destined for disposal.



It’s important to keep reinforcing that message. Tossing out electronics instead of recycling them does more harm than good.

The solution is to turn those devices over to an experienced firm like Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, which has years of experience performing environmentally friendly recycling of electronic products.

The team at Great Lakes Electronics Corporation will disassemble these items into component parts, and the ones that still have value can be sold for reuse. Other parts are used for metals recovery. Everything within your devices gets recycled.

To learn more, contact Great Lakes Electronics Corporation at 888-392-7831 today.