E-cycle for a greener tomorrow

The electronics industry is continuously making progress to the latest gadgets while consumers consistently try to keep up.  Cell phones, tablets, video games, computers, and Smartphones evolve at a blinding rate of speed.  As consumers, we want to stay on top of the latest trends and technology.  Finding the newest and best gadget and retiring the already outdated electronic devices we seemed to have purchased all too recently.

Electronic waste, otherwise known as e-waste and/or e-scrap, such as computers, monitors, printers, keyboards, televisions, and cell phones weigh in at over 2 billion tons every year. All of these devices can be resource rather than waste if more businesses and consumers would recycle them instead. Materials such as glass, precious metals, copper, aluminum, and plastic can often be extracted and reused.

Electronic waste is dangerous.  Electronic items contain large amounts of lead, cadmium, mercury and other toxic substances.  If these items are dumped into a landfill, they decompose in the landfill and toxic substances either seep into the earth or are released into the air, eventually leaking into our water supply or spread across the environment by the rain that gives life to our crops.  Human and animal consumption of these substances can be lethal.

Every year, 50 million tons of electronic waste is produced.  30 million computers are discarded every year in the United States with Europe disposing of 100 million phones annually.  According to the EPA, only 15-20% of E-waste is recycled, with the remainder ending up in landfills.

Electronics that are at the end of their lifespan may also be recycled for their raw materials.  Metals in these materials can be retrieved for future uses.  By recycling these electronics, the intact natural resources are reserved.  This prevents hazardous disposal (which would enable air and water pollution) from occurring.  Furthermore, recycling also eliminates the need for fully manufacturing new products, which reduces the amount of greenhouse emissions.

How to Recycle or Donate Used Electronics

The continuous advancement in technology of electronic gadgets creates a never ending production of e-waste.  However, with resources enabling the public to recycle and reuse the gadgets themselves or the valuable resources embedded within them, e-waste can be dramatically reduced.   From local retailers to government-supported programs, there are numerous options to dispose of electronics in an environmentally friendly manner.