Electronics are everywhere in our lives. The average person in a developed country owns a smartphone, laptop, television, microwave, printer, monitor, tablet, camera, MP3 player, and radio. Every couple of years, these electronic products become outdated, and people want to replace them with newer versions. But what happens to all these older electronic products? They get thrown away.
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is a big problem in the world. According to a United Nations statistic from 2015, up to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste are discarded annually. Since the number of smartphones in the world is more than the total world population, you can imagine how much waste gets created every time a new iPhone or Android phone is released. All these people throw away their old phones and purchase new ones, only adding more electronic waste to the world.
The most ignored fact about electronic waste are the dangers it inflicts upon the environment. Electronic waste consists of so many environmentally hazardous materials, such as chromium, mercury, cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls, and brominated flame retardants. When these materials get thrown away, they spread dangerous chemicals into the soil and pollute the air with toxic fumes. This can affect the health of agriculture, wildlife, and human beings on our planet.
To stop this trend from happening, everybody on Earth must agree to start recycling their unwanted electronic products and components. Then we can start to reverse the devastating problems that we’ve already created from our electronic waste crisis.
What to Recycle
Roughly 20% of all electronic waste gets recycled, leaving the other 80% to destroy the environment. When electronic waste is discarded, it usually gets incinerated or placed in landfills. Both of which are hazardous to our health and the environment because of the toxic materials and chemicals in them. So, you must take electronic recycling seriously to save this planet and our lives.
It is easy to figure out which electronic items need to be recycled. If it is something that plugs into the wall and contains wires and chips, then it must be recycled. Some examples of these items include the following:
- All computers (desktops, laptops, etc.)
- All computer parts and components (CPUs, motherboards, graphics cards, etc.)
- All computer accessories (keyboards, monitors, mice, scanner, printer, etc.)
- All televisions (LCD, Plasma)
- Office equipment
- Radios, stereos, DVD players
- Smartphones and other mobile devices
However, there are certain electronics which cannot be recycled because of regulations dictated by local municipalities or electronic waste recycling programs. These forbidden items include:
- Smoke alarms
- Medical equipment
- Any large appliance
If you need to get rid of these items, the best thing to do is call a local appliance company in your area and have them remove these items for you. They’ll likely keep these electronic items for themselves and disassemble them for spare parts and accessories. At least they won’t end up in a landfill somewhere.
The Recycling Process for Electronic Waste
Professional electronic recyclers do not exist in every city and state. But if you happen to have one nearby, they may offer to pick-up your electronic waste for you. Just don’t expect them to routinely come to your house like your local waste management company. Professional e-recyclers must make special trips to obtain your waste.
Once the electronic waste is brought back to their facility, they put it through a mechanical shredding machine. From there, the shredded pieces are put through a highly innovative separation device which extracts all usable metals from the debris. These metals are brought to a smelter where they’re eventually reused to make other electronic devices and appliances.
On the other hand, you can find plenty of computer and electronic stores which offer to take your old electronics off your hands for you. There is no charge to forfeit your smartphones and computers to these stores.