As the number of electronics on the market drastically increases, so too does electronic waste, or e-waste. And with more e-waste piling up in and around our environment, the problem of pollution like toxic chemicals comes into play.
Luckily there is a solution: Green electronics.
In this article, we will explain:
- What are e-waste and green electronics?
- The benefits of green electronics
- How we can move towards a green future
Let’s dive in!
What is E-Waste?
E-waste, or end-of-life electronics, are electronics like cell phones, laptops, and gaming consoles that are no longer being used and are discarded.
There are about 20-50 million metric tons of e-waste generated every year, and most of it ends up in landfills in the US or is shipped off to landfills in developing countries.
The problem? Landfills are becoming overfilled. Additionally, the improper disposal of e-waste is negatively impacting the environment.
For the e-waste that sits in landfills, it is creating pollution in our air, water, and soil. Even worse, the common process used to extract valuable metals exposes our environment to harsh chemicals.
Common Components of E-Waste
Electronics generally break down into two categories: metal and plastic.
While most metals can be easily recycled and reused, many of the plastics used for electronics contain toxic materials that are not biodegradable.
Furthermore, although the metal components can be recycled, they often end up in landfills, releasing toxins into the environment.
So, how can we reduce this hazardous problem? The answer is simple: Green electronics!
What are Green Electronics?
Green electronics refer to electronics that are biodegradable, sustainable, and recyclable.
When we usually think of biodegradable, we think of banana peels or apples; something that breaks down and disappears after a few days. But, no one wants an iPhone that turns into mush in your pocket.
Green electronics, though, are durable during use yet made to biodegrade at end-of-life.
Electronics Produced with Sustainability in Mind
Electronics produced through environmentally-friendly processes are Green electronics. They take into account the consumption of energy and production of carbon.
Made out of recycled materials, green electronics reduce the consumption of vital natural resources.
So, why should we be switching to green electronics?
Green Electronics Reduce Pollution
Green electronics are the future we need in order to prevent widespread pollution from electronic devices.
Improper disposal of e-waste involves removing the non-degradable plastics to reach the valuable metals. These damaging processes include acid baths and open-burning. This releases chemicals into the air which later seeps into our rain clouds.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has caused about 4.2 million deaths yearly.
Additionally, the e-waste left in landfills over the years begins to release chemicals into the surrounding soil. This eventually gets into our oceans and our drinking water.
Toxic Chemicals Found In E-Waste
There are several toxic elements in electronics that can affect our health.
Some of which include:
- Brominated Flame Retardant
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid
- Polyvinyl Chloride
These chemicals can have adverse health effects such as neurological damage, trouble breathing, cancer, miscarriages, and more. That is why you must switch to green electronics and recycle e-waste properly.
Production of Green Electronics Reduces Carbon Emissions
By switching to producing green electronics, you are also reducing the amount of energy used and carbon produced.
For instance, typically the precious metals used are non-renewable like aluminum or iron. So not only are we depleting the resources by not reusing the metals but, in order to mine these materials, they use an exorbitant amount of energy.
If manufacturers started generating green electronics, they could reduce carbon emissions by reusing recycled resources.
So, where do we go from here?
Moving Forward to a Greener Future
The planet can’t take much more damage if we want our children and grandchildren to have a healthy and clean future. It is our responsibility to leave the world better than when we came into it.
So, what steps can you take to create a greener future?
Environmentalists are recommending the following to minimize e-waste and reduce pollution:
- Prioritize – Ask yourself, “do I need this?” before buying the latest electronic advertised
- Take Care Of Your Electronics – Work to extend the life of your electronics by being careful to not let them get damaged
- Buy Green – Many manufacturers are beginning to develop green electronics, look out for ones labeled with Energy Star or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certified
- Manufacture Green – The Government is doing everything they can to make manufacturing green electronics beneficial for you, so take advantage of it
- Recycle E-Waste Properly – If you have any electronics you don’t want anymore recycle them with an environmentally-friendly facility
Any step you can take to reduce e-waste is one step closer to a healthier planet.
Manufacturers Encouraged To Produce Green Electronics
The government and environmental organizations, like the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are encouraging manufacturers to design cleaner, less toxic electronics with longer lifespans that are both safe and easy to recycle.
While most manufacturers agree going green is best for the economy, many are struggling with how to do so.
But, once plastics have been solved, there’s not much left that needs to be done to bring e-waste to net zero. The metals you find in electronics are already extremely recyclable, with some metals being more than 95% recyclable.
Consumers Asked to Step Up
While most of the pollution being caused is through the manufacturing of unsustainable electronics, there are still things we can do as a consumer.
By being conscious of your electronic habits, you can do your part to help the environment.
So, what can you do while we wait for more manufacturers to start producing green electronics?
Recycle Your E-Waste With Great Lakes Electronics Corporation
In the meantime, you can help lower your own carbon footprint by recycling your electronics with Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, as a business owner, or doing your part as a citizen.
Recycling your e-waste with a trusted facility keeps the e-waste out of landfills and reduces the negative effects on the environment.
Great Lakes Electronics Corporation has a great reputation for being trusted experts in the recycling and management of e-waste. We recycle your unwanted equipment in a responsible, environmentally conscious way.
Great Lakes Electronics Corporation serves customers both large and small, from private customers to large corporations. Contact us today at 888-392-7831 to request a quote.