Top Reasons to Recycle E-Waste

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Every other day, a new mobile phone, laptop, oven, or TV model is introduced into the market. As technology keeps improving, new and better electronic devices are getting accessible at reasonable prices. And as a result, the majority of the world population has at least one electronic device. When these electronics get damaged beyond repair or become obsolete, people simply get rid of them. Sometimes, even if the device is relatively new, users tempt to replace the older model to get access to the latest technology. Possibly, you also have a cabinet drawer or box filled with old mobile phones, broken chargers, or obsolete MP3 players.  All these unwanted electronics are known as e-waste and when these items reach the landfill, they release toxic materials that harm the environment. As piles of e-waste are getting bigger, it has become imperative to understand what exactly e-waste is and why e-waste recycling is crucial to saving the environment. So, let’s find out!

What is E-Waste?

The end-of-life (EOL) electronic devices are referred to as e-waste. E-waste includes all electronic products that are damaged, unwanted, not working, or at the end of their “useful life.” These are electronic equipment and gadgets that have been discarded and thrown in the garbage or donated to a charity. Often, if the item goes unsold in the store, it will be thrown away. Some common items included in e-waste are home appliances like fans, heaters, microwaves, TV, printer, video games, DVDs, and lamps, as well as communication devices like smartphones, desktop computers, laptops, hard drives, and more. Office and medical equipment like IT servers, cords, cables, dialysis machines, Wi-Fi dongles, etc. also becomes e-waste when no longer in use.

Why Recycle E-Waste?

Most of these unwanted electronics can be refurbished or recycled, but the majority of e-waste finds its way to landfills. It is found that more than 80% of electronic waste is dumped in landfills or burned down which causes significant damage to the environment. Reports suggest that e-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream, growing three times faster than municipal waste. To minimize the hazard of e-waste, recycling is the best solution that involves reusing old materials in new products. Recycling e-waste has become more important than ever because only 20% of global e-waste is recycled while the remaining 80% goes into landfills. To understand the importance of recycling e-waste, let’s take a look at the top reasons to recycle “digital rubbish”.

  1. Prevents Toxic Hazards

The majority of waste electronics are being thrown into landfills which creates many environmental issues. Most electronics have components made of iron, aluminum, lead, mercury, and gold erode. When dumped in the landfill, these metal and plastic components release harmful toxins into the soil. These hazardous materials are poisonous and kill various plants and microorganisms living on that land. As the amount of e-waste increases, these toxic materials could spread in the soil and eventually seep into water sources causing further harm. E-waste causes severe damage to the ecosystems and must be recycled. Many parts in the unwanted electronics can be reused to create new products while non-recyclable components needed to be carefully disposed of to minimize environmental damage. The recycling process involves removing toxic materials like mercury to prevent them from reaching landfills.

  1. Save Natural Resources

Dumping e-waste means throwing away metals and materials that could be used to make new products. The material found in the old electronics and gadgets can be utilized for producing new smartphones or tablets. More than 90% of components in an electronic device can be recycled. Producing a new product from scratch involves mining to extract metals for making new components.  This process is not only expensive and time-consuming but also harmful to the natural resources. However, recycling allows for recovering most of the material needed such as zinc, tin, nickel, aluminum, copper, silver, gold, and plastic. Reusing materials from old electronic gadgets means less waste goes into the landfills and a lot of money and energy needed for mining and refining is saved.

  1. Keep the Environment Safe

To keep the environment safe, recycling is the best solution. Recycling means less waste ends up in the landfill. Moreover, manufacturing a single electronic-like computer from scratch requires a vast amount of chemicals, water, energy, and other resources. Reusing old components or refurbishing helps in reducing the resources needed to make new products. This not only lowers the production cost but also reduces the pressure on the environment. Recycling significantly reduces the carbon footprint and reduces the demand for new raw materials.   This results in conserving natural resources.  Moreover, harmful gas emissions are decreased which reduces air pollution. E-waste is also often dumped in water bodies that harm marine life. Reusing old material means less waste is thrown into the sea thereby preventing water pollution.

  1. Reduces Production Cost

Reusing old components means there’s no need to extract metals and produce every part from scratch. This helps in reducing the production cost which ultimately reduces the final cost of the product. Moreover, many people discard their old electronic device not because it has broken, but because they want to use the latest technology. In this case, people usually either sell the gadgets in a second-hand shop or give them to charity. The used gadgets are often refurbished and sold at a lower cost to those who cannot afford to buy new electronic devices. Both recycling and refurbishing help increase the affordability of electronic products.