The electronic waste generated from electronics is called e-waste. This type of trash contains both parts and whole electronic equipment. The parts can be reused, but the rest needs to be recycled for material recovery. In the United States alone, over 50 million tons of e-waste is created each year. More than one billion cell phones and 300 million computers are sold every year. The number of old computers is increasing every year, and a single computer could save enough energy to power more than 25,000 homes for a year.
While the United States has not ratified the Basel Convention, it does have several federal laws governing the export of toxic waste. According to the Basel Action Network, 80% of the electronic waste created in the United States is not recycled and is sent to places such as China. However, the EPA, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association dispute this estimate. Regardless of the source, the amount of electronic waste produced in the U.S. is a huge problem. Fortunately, there are technical solutions to the problem.
Currently, the New York Electronics Recycling Program offers a free mail-back service for businesses that are not in the New York metropolitan area. You can also find upcoming electronics collections in your neighborhood at NYC WasteLess. If you’re in the state of Connecticut, you can contact the Sims Lifecycle Services office for more information. Alternatively, you can visit NYCWasteLess to recycle your old electronics. But no matter where you live, electronic recycling can help you protect the environment and your pocketbook, too.
While the United States uses the largest amount of electronics in the world, the amount of precious metals that go into a computer are becoming increasingly rare. In addition to this, most computer devices use a large amount of energy and water, and a large portion of their lifetimes are unused. Refurbished products contain the precious metals, and the United Nations estimates that the electronic waste produced is richer in precious metals than all the world’s mines combined.
To avoid sending your electronics abroad for recycling, make sure to send them to a country that recycles them. The United States has few federal laws that prohibit the export of hazardous waste. The Basel Convention is a major issue in this country, but it is a very small factor when it comes to e-waste. In many other countries, this type of toxic waste is illegal. Therefore, if you are in the U.S., consider using an electronic recycling company.
Aside from reducing landfill space, recycling electronics helps the environment. Often, electronic waste is disposed of in a landfill, which contributes to pollution. Moreover, improperly disposed e-waste is hazardous to our health. By properly recycling e-waste, a brand’s old model can be used again to produce a new one. These companies also reduce the need to mine new raw materials and make new components.