What’s the first cell phone you ever purchased?
Whether it was the LG Chocolate, the Blackberry, or the iPhone 4S – it could be poisoning the environment as you’re reading this.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a major contributor to pollution. It comprises nearly 70% of overall toxic waste. Laptops, televisions, and tablets are among the 40 million tons of electronic waste we throw out each year.
Our societal tendency to haphazardly “use and discard” is causing widespread damage to both our environment and our health. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the damaging impacts of e-waste while also creating opportunities for energy conservation and the recovery of valuable metals.
How is e-waste toxic?
The toxicity of e-waste lies in its raw materials, with mercury and lead being the most common. These toxins are frequently used in the production of laptops and other popular electronics. When electronic devices are improperly disposed of in landfills, the chemicals they contain are released into the air as they burn.
These burned chemicals lead to air pollution and pose a risk to the health of humans and animals. A 2021 study on the effects of e-waste by the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the risks associated with e-waste, stating that it contributes to lung function and respiratory damage, DNA damage, impaired thyroid function, and more. The alarming increase in e-waste, which amounts to two million metric tonnes annually, is a cause for concern and a call to action.
The benefits of recycling your e-waste
Recycling your e-waste has a primary benefit that can't be overstated: it minimizes your environmental impact. By responsibly disposing of your used electronics, you're not only reducing your carbon footprint, but also limiting the exposure of our communities to the toxic substances stated previously.
Here are a few opportunities that recycling e-waste can bring:
Embrace sustainability and minimize future pollution
Recycling your e-waste not only prevents harmful gas emissions that result from burning, but also minimizes future pollution from manufacturing new products. By reusing and recycling your device, you can help meet the demand for electronics without the need to produce a new product.
Recover precious metals
Recycling e-waste presents the valuable opportunity to recover precious metals – gold, silver, palladium and copper – from our old products. When extracted effectively, these metals can be salvaged and sold to offset the costs of recycling. Recycling one million cell phones can produce close to 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. That’s some heavy metal!
Protect your business from hacking
Improperly disposing of electronics can leave you susceptible to data hacking. Compared to “leaving your journal out for anyone to read,” most of U.S. e-waste travels internationally to digital graveyards in Central Africa and Asia.
Properly disposing of e-waste doesn't require destroying the device yourself. Instead, connecting with the right channels can ensure secure disposal without compromising data security or harming the environment.
How can I properly dispose of my e-waste?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of recycling e-waste, let’s dive into how to properly recycle:
- Seek repairs
First and foremost, look to repair the device you currently have before deciding to get a new one. Computers were designed to last up to 40 years when first introduced in 1990, but now the average lifespan is approximately 1-4.5 years, varying by device. Given our constant desire for the latest and greatest technology, it's hardly surprising that we lose interest in our devices so quickly.
If you’re still looking for the latest tech, comfortably resell your old device. By giving someone else the opportunity to reuse your device, you can extend its lifespan, promote sustainability, and reduce your carbon footprint. You can also resell your device to tech and computer repair stores looking to reuse parts. Reselling your device benefits both parties: you earn some extra cash, and someone else gains a new computer. Just ensure that you wipe the data before reselling.
- Find an e-waste recycler
Lastly, if you're unable to repair or resell your device, it's crucial to prioritize finding an e-waste recycler. This is important for the sake of environmental laws and especially important if you are looking to protect your data. Finding the proper recycler simplifies the process.
Companies like RGX are available to streamline the e-waste recycling process for you. Find vendors directly on their platform utilizing their online exchange. Here’s how it works: customers post their e-waste needs directly on the platform and local vendors can competitively bid for the various jobs.
RGX connects businesses with both resellers and recyclers – it’s up to you how your e-waste is utilized based on the bids you receive. RGX’s business model benefits businesses because they’re able to dictate exactly where their e-waste is going, mitigate foreign hacking, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Fluid Truck is excited to announce that we’ve partnered with RGX to help transport this e-waste more sustainably and efficiently! If you’re a business owner in need of an e-waste recycling solution, be sure to explore options like RGX near you.