Electronic Waste, or "E-Waste" for short, is a dangerous side effect of the tremendous technological growth of the modern era. E-Waste includes everything from plastic computer chassis, to the circuit boards in your microwave. This waste is generated when electronics break down or become outdated and are thrown away. The users normally throw them away like any other piece of trash, leading to excess and dangerous pollution.
In 2012, we generated almost 3.5 million tons of electronic waste, but according to the EPA, only 29.2 percent was recycled. The rest was trashed or incinerated, causing lots of pollution and disease.
For every 1 million cell plones recycled, over 35000 lbs of copper, over 770 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered. These are valuable, finite materials being thrown away every day.
In 2013, consumers in the United States spent more than 215 billion dollars on electronics. However, only a small percentage of these products are environmentally friendly, while an even smaller percentage are being recycled in the proper fashion.
Batteries are small, annoyingly expensive things that come in all shapes and sizes, and power everything you can imagine. However, with this ubiquity comes a problem: storage and disposal of the massive quantities of batteries we consume.
Batteries contain many dangerous heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium that can contaminate the environment and harm humans. When incinerated or left to rot, with time, they will leak into the ground we grow our food on, and into the lakes and rivers we get our water from.
A good way to avoid the waste of batteries is to buy rechargeable batteries, so that you can reuse them instead of throwing them away. If this is not possible, It is better to buy betteries created with a portion of recycled waste. A good choice for this are the EcoAdvanced batteries from Energizer that are made with at least 4% recycled batteries. This may not sound like a lot, but it will drastically improve pollution from batteries.
Computers are an important part of everyday life for all of us. At work, at school, and at home, we rely on computers to make communication and working easier.
However, they contain many harmful substances that can have bad effects when not properly disposed of. When incinerated or left in a landfill, computers can leave behind cadmium, mercury, and other wastes. Exposure to these substances can lead to birth defects and damage to the brain, heart, liver or kidneys.
A way to reuse your old computers is to donate them to charities such as InterConnection.org, a charity which refurbishes and reuses old computers by donating them to people in underprivileged countries. This saves both energy used in recycling, and provides a better life to other fellow humans.
Another way to get some use out of old computers is to reuse their parts such as the hard drive, which are unlikely to be the broken part. This can make other computers even more useful, and sometimes faster.
Televisions, or TV's are a part of everyday life for most americans. however, with so many TV's around, and with newer versions being released every day, people eventually need to replace their older ones.
The improper disposal of TV's has many drastic effects on the environment. Inside each TV, there are several toxic chemicals such as Beryllium, Cadmium and Chromium Hexavalent, which act as carcinogens in an exposed environment. Another major component of TVs is Lead, which can disintegrate into lead oxide dust, which is poisonous when inhaled by most living beings, including humans.
To recycle a TV, it is really easy. Simply take it to any major retailer where TV's can be purchased, and they will properly dispose of it for you. An even better option is to reuse the TV as a guest TV, or selling/donating so someone less fortunate can get some use of it.
With the rapid advancing of mobile technology, almost everyone, adult and child, has some kind of a mobile device. With this many devices, there is a lot of waste generated, with cracked screens, broken parts, and deformed metal frames.
Cell phones are created with a lot of the same materials as a computer, so they have a lot of the same adverse effects on humans and the environment. The toxic waste can lead to many diseases such as birth defects, brain or heard damage, and liver or kidney damage.
It is really easy to recycle cell phones. There are many stores such as Best Buy that have bins to drop old phones to be recycled or refurbished. There are also charities such as Cell Phones for Soldiers, which gets used cell phones to soldiers serving abroad so they can contact their families and keep their morale up.
Since the late 1800s, home appliances have been used to assist the average family with many household tasks. However, as useful as they are, they will all eventually break and be thrown out.
Improperly disposing household appliances can introduce different chemicals, oils and other substances that can damage the environment and contribute to global warming and climate change. They can also contaminate the groundwater and can cause long-lasting health issues within the community. Large appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers, are not biodegradable, and will stay in landfills for hundreds of years.
If your appliances are still in working condition, instead of throwing the appliance away, you can sell or donate it. Organizations, such as Goodwill, can take your unwanted appliances and donate them to families in need. Also, most communities have local recyclers near their area. Call them and they will take your old appliances and recycle them. Try to choose certified recyclers, since some of them may be untrustworthy and may not properly recycle the appliances.
It is very easy for everyone to contribute to the future and try to reuse their old electronics, either by donating, reusing, or recycling.
There are many charities that specialize in donating electronics. A great option for cell phones is cellphonesforsoldiers.com which donates cell phones to soldiers, allowing them to contact their loved ones and boost morale for free. If the cell phone is not in very good condition, they will recycle it, reducing environmental impact.
Another option to donate your used electronics is The Wireless Foundation which accepts used cell phones. With the help of the company ReCellular, Inc, they will refurbish phones and then sell or donate them. All of the proceeds go to grants that help combat domestic abuse. Use their website to find out more.
If you are feeling adventurous, it is also possible to repair computers and cellphones and tablets yourself. Websites like ifixit.com make it easy to repair mobile devices, by selling the fine tools, replacement parts, and providing detailed instructions.
Because these electronics become such a big part of our lives when they were working, they can contain a lot of personal data. Make sure that before you donate, you have cleared the hard drive, and factory-reset phones and computers. This way, no one has access to your sensitive data.
In addition to these general solutions, us Flower Mounders have another option that makes it even easier to reuse and recycle electronics safely.
The best way for us to help keep E-Waste out of landfills is to take advantage of our town's little known Household Hazardous Waste Disposal. The process of getting your trash picked up is easy.
First, call 1-(800)-449-7587 to schedule a pick-up time and date. The hotline operator will fully explain the program. They will then ship you a kit with instructions and materials.
To prepare your trash for collection, follow the program instruction sheet in your kit in order to make the hazardous materials safe to collect. Things like gasoline, poisons, pesticides and aerosols have to be placed in the kit. Everything else can be outside it.
Make sure to leave your trash how it is supposed to be outside on the scheduled date so it can be picked up by the Waste Management company. They will sort and pack the trash for you, so you don't have to worry about anything.
For more information about this, visit their website, which provides some more information, or just call the number above and ask them.