How Does Recycling Electronics Help the Environment?
What is E-Waste?
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, comprised 1.87 million short tons of consumer matter in 2013. This amount accounts for 40% of total recycled consumer electronics. A short ton, also known as the US ton, is equal to 2000 pounds of material. If an average male African elephant weighs seven tons, 1.87 million tons is the equivalent of approximately 267,000 elephants. And that figure represents one year of consumption!
E-waste includes television sets, microwaves computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, mice, keyboards, cell phones, office, industrial and medical equipment, label makers, satellite dishes, toasters, VCRS, DVD players, heaters, washing machines and satellite dishes. Basically, e-waste includes consumer or business items that are no longer functioning or nearly dead.
Some of the aforementioned products can be reused by donation or reselling through local or online sources. Other equipment needs to be refurbished. If the product is defunct, the materials can be recycled to help protect and sustain the environment.
Before donating or recycling, delete all personal information from the memory of the device using drive cleaning software; deleting files via the desktop is not enough to permanently delete sensitive information from memory. In addition, batteries need to be removed and recycled separately. When donating a cell phone, delete all memory, remove the SIM card and cut it in half.
How Does Recycling Electronics Help the Environment through Detoxification?
Multiple components of electronic products contain toxic and hazardous material that are detrimental to the health and natural environment of plants, animals and humans. Heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead and nickel are extremely damaging to organisms and the environment. The absorption of the aforementioned heavy metals, even in minute quantities, blocks crucial enzymatic pathways in the body, leading to neurologic and immune changes. Over time, heavy metal toxicity leads to chronic illness and health complications. Detoxifying these heavy metals from a living organism requires special potent detoxifiers such as chlorella, cilantro, calcium EDTA, DMSO and FIR saunas.
Cell phones have heavy metals which, when recovered, are used in jewelry, plating and the automotive and art industries, among others. Plastic cell phone arts are recycled to create new electronic and plastic equipment. Plasticizers act as xenoestrogens in living creatures. Microscopic amounts of these compounds mimic the role of estrogen in the body and imbalance hormonal pathways in the body, leading to chronic illness.
How Does Recycling Electronics Help the Environment through Pollution Reduction?
By recycling one million laptops, the public can annually save the electrical energy of 3,500 US homes. By recycling one million cell phones, the industry recovers 915 thousand pounds of copper, silver, gold and palladium.
Why Should Consumers Care?
Manufacturers and retailers provide different ways to recycle electronics. Ask the retailer or search online for available resources and local programs. Together, small proactive behavioral changes can yield large environmental changes. Although educating the public and changing habits requires awareness, understanding, commitment and time, the long lasting choices consumers make on a daily basis drive the future health and wealth of nations. The public has the power to exponentially decrease the 167 million tons of annual landfill waste. To create change, act now.