The rapid growth and popularity of home electronics, from laptops to smart phones to flat screen televisions, has turned this field into a global industry worth billions of dollars.
However, technological advances have also created another global phenomenon: the challenge of what to do with all those used laptops, tablets, computers, screen monitors, power tools, and other devices once they break down, become obsolete, or get replaced by improved versions.
It’s become increasingly clear these devices can pose potentially hazardous environmental risks if they’re placed with other household trash in a landfill.
As a result, communities worldwide are looking for innovative ways to handle the massively increased growth in what has been termed e-waste, or electronic waste.
A burst of new recycling
The response has been the rise of a burgeoning e-waste recycling market, which has responded to both the booming popularity of consumer electronics, and the growing unpopularity of these products in landfills.
Both trends are certain to continue.
New data has shown that consumers are on track to buy more electronic devices than ever before, and the Consumer Technology Association has reported that most U.S. households have up to 24 electronic products. While there’s been a worldwide explosion in new electronic devices, the life span of many has only gotten shorter and shorter.
As devices become more sophisticated each year, the older versions quickly become obsolete.
That’s a lot of products that have outlived their usefulness. As the life span of these products gets shorter, the amount of e-waste grows larger.
At the same time, a growing number of states have passed laws banning e-waste from going into landfills and incinerators. It’s been estimated that up to 70 percent of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from electronics.
What are the Environmental risks?
Although e-waste still goes into landfills in many states, the environmental risks are well known. These products contain lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury and flame retardants, which can pose serious environmental threats to the surrounding groundwater.
It’s been estimated that e-waste contains more than 75 percent of the environmentally hazardous waste found in landfills.
A growing number of states are recognizing the benefits of not allowing these used items to go into landfills, and instead finding ways to recycle them.
There is a lot to recycle. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2014 that e-waste is the most rapidly growing segment of municipal solid waste. In the United States alone, there is more 3 million tons of e-waste ready to be recycled.
In addition to protecting the environment form contaminants, electronic recycling has helped recover precious metals contained within these products.
This is not just an issue in the United States. E-waste recycling has actually been done at a higher rate in Europe than in the United States. A full-fledged e-waste recycling plant recently opened in Karnataka in South India, a country that generates an estimated 2.5 million tons of e-waste per year.
The global recycling market was valued at $9.84 billion in 2012, and is expected to keep growing by more than 20 percent through 2019.
The market has also been fueled by growing privacy and security concerns. With so much critical data stored on laptops, smart phones, tablets and other devices, consumers are increasingly reluctant to simply discard them until they can be certain no one will be able to access that information in the future.
That’s a key reason why a proven recycling firm like Great Lakes Electronics Corporation will not only recycle your electronic waste, but also eliminate any worries the owner might have about the data that’s still contained on the old hard drive.
Great Lakes Electronics Corporation offers a complete destruction of all drives through their in-house shredder that will grind and chop it into small pieces, making it impossible for someone else to recover personal information.
They can even record the shredding of those drives so anyone interested can watch it being destroyed.