More and more states are moving fast to keep electronic waste out of their community landfills. Instead they’re requiring them to be recycled.
One of the most recent was New York, which in 2015 made it illegal to leave computers and other electronics for curb-side trash pickup.
There are also ongoing efforts to educate the public about the benefits of electronic recycling.
So why is there such a strong interest in recycling electronics today? Because the evidence is clear that putting computers, cell phones, tablets, computer monitors and other a host of other electronics in your regular garbage poses serious environmental risks.
The materials used to build these devices, testing has shown, can poison the soil around the landfill if there’s a lot of lead and mercury in them.
Their components are literally toxic to the environment. Once tossed in a landfill, they’re simply being left to leach into the earth.
Electronic waste can also contribute to air pollution. These are devices that definitely don’t belong in regular trash, since they contain lead, mercury, cadmium and other potentially harmful chemicals.
There have even been studies done that indicate a link between e-Waste in landfills and possible threats to human health, including serious respiratory issues.
The journal Environmental Research Letters has reported that researchers took air samples from a large e-waste dismantling area in China and determined that these products had a negative impact on human lung cells.
They also determined that many pollutants get released from e-waste, and can accumulate in the human body as people inhale contaminated air.
The study found that half the children had tested positive for respiratory problems, and 30 percent had blood abnormalities – both indicative of heavy-metal poisoning from electronics.
Rising volumes of e-waste
Besides the environmental risks, a major challenge today is the sheer volume of e-waste that gets discarded. As technology improves and each device is upgraded with additional features, the older versions become obsolete. Suddenly there’s more and more end-of-life electronic goods being discarded.
It’s been estimated that each year, between 20 and 50 million tons of e-waste gets generated worldwide. In 2012, the U.S. alone generated more e-waste per resident than any other nation.
The need for increased recycling of these products is strong, and urgent. In 2014, the global sales of smartphones increased by 23 percent. At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that just 27 percent of our e-waste is recycled annually.
As we continue buying smartphones and other gadgets, we keep putting the old models out in the trash.
The good news is that it’s easy to recycle electronics, and increased recycling can help both the environment and can create green jobs in the future.
Recycling e-waste not only helps to conserve energy, but it also recycles natural resources like copper, silver, and aluminum. Many of the metals used in our gadgets are rare earth metals in limited supply, and they can be reused instead of having to mine for new supplies.
That also helps prevent air and water pollution. It’s a win for everyone.
At Great Lakes Electronics Corporation we have years of experience performing environmentally friendly recycling of electronic products, including computers, Circuit Boards, telephone equipment and communications systems.
The Great Lakes Electronics team 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, and everything is recycled.