As technology only gets more advanced, we also have to look at the impact that it has on our environment. One of the growing epidemics that we have to consider when it comes to our technological changes, is e-waste. What is e-waste? E-waste is what we call electronics that we can no longer use. Think about computer monitors, mobile phones, TV’s, stereos, printers, etc. Really any kind of electronic device that no longer works, or you are looking to get rid of can be considered e-waste. If you think about how much we rely on these electronics as a people, then you can see just how much e-waste we can be producing each year.

One of the biggest questions that people have when they are trying to dispose of their e-waste, is how? Are we just supposed to throw away our electronics, or should we be trying to recycle them. This graph shows just how much e-waste was thrown away in comparison to being recycled over the past few years.

ewaste generation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the amount of e-waste that we create has only increased over the years, and isn’t being properly handled. When it comes to getting rid of any of your electronics, it is extremely important to recycle any and all of them. Not only can they usually be refurbished, but there is also the fact that most electronics contain highly toxic materials that should be disposed of properly. Recycling your residential or business e-waste is crucial in making sure that we can continue to produce electronics as well as keeping our environment as protected as possible.

When you look at the electronics recycling process it helps make it a little bit easier to understand in regards to why electronics recycling is so important. One of the first steps in the electronics recycling process is to actually remove any hazardous materials from the electronics that are being disposed of. Depending on what kind of device we are looking at this could mean a mercury switch, toner, or any other sensitive materials that you can find in today’s electronics. Once the materials have been safely removed from each device, the materials are sent to the shredder. The shredding process alone can be quite a hassle, but this is why there are companies that handle e-waste specifically.The first step is to shred things to about a four inch circumference, after that everything is sent down a line in order to ensure any hard materials or motors are removed properly. The next shredding process helps shred the materials down to a smaller size and also starts to separate the materials in order to ensure that each material gets to where it needs to go to be reused.

Some of the most popular places that you can send your old electronics to are places such as thrift stores. For example, let’s say that you have just moved into a new house or apartment. You may have an old TV that you want to get rid of. Thrift stores engage in TV recycling for a small fee to help offset the cost of the recycling process. One thing to keep in mind is that there is typically a fee associated with disposing of your old devices. If you look at the electronics recycling process, you can see just why there is a fee. When recycling electronics, there are quite a bit of things that each company has to look into, as well as making sure that everything is properly handled to ensure the safety of their employees. Paying twenty dollars in order to have an old television recycled is absolutely worth it because of how much more work goes into recycling something of that size and material than a box of paperwork.

Depending on why someone is getting rid of a certain device, there may actually be a way to make money off of your old electronics. Say that someone is getting rid of a phone that still works because they want to get a newer phone. If that is the case, there are plenty of stores that engage in mobile phone recycling and refurbish phones to sell to the public. Mobile phone recycling is a fairly common practice amongst the large mobile service providers in the US. There are plenty of options when it comes to disposing of your old electronics, but you will want to look around at places near you, as well as looking into different ways that you can possibly sell some of your old devices. Most cities will have lists that explain what you can take to certain facilities, and where each of these facilities is located. If you do just a little bit of research, you should be able to find a location in your city that will show you exactly how to dispose of your e-waste in the best way possible. 

As our world becomes more involved with technology, we are only going to see e-waste get bigger. The more that we rely on electronic devices, the more that we go through them, which is all the more reason to make sure that you know how to properly dispose of, and/or recycle your devices in order to ensure the safety of our environment, as well as to ensure that we can continue producing electronic devices. There are only so many materials that we can use to produce these certain devices and over time we are only going to continue to run out of materials. It is crucial to our environment, as well as our growth with technology to make sure that we are educated on the future of and proper disposal of e-waste.

projected ewaste

Take the time to look into proper disposal of your e-waste before you try to dispose of any of your electronic devices. The time to make sure that our environment is protected, is today. If we don’t look out for our future, who will?

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“E-Waste Volume and Exponential Growth.” Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <http://electronicrecyclers.com/sustainability/recycling-trends/e-waste-volume-and-growth.aspx>.
“Facts and Figures on E-Waste and Recycling.” Electronics Take Back Coalition. 25 June 2014. Web. 9 Jan. 2015. <http://www.electronicstakeback.com/wp-content/uploads/Facts_and_Figures_on_EWaste_and_Recycling.pdf>.
Sims Recycling Solutions – Electronics and Metals Recycling – Virtual Tour. 2009. Film.
“What Is E-Waste?” CalRecycle. 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Jan. 2015. <http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/electronics/whatisewaste/>.