E-Waste Definition: If you can plug it in, or if it contains chips or circuit boards, chances are its E-Waste. Products that fall under this category include televisions, computers and their monitors, scanners, printers, keyboards, lamps, calculators, clocks, phones, flashlights, digital and video cameras, answering machines, radios, VCRs, MP3 and CD players and DVD players.
Kitchen equipment also falls under the e-waste definition. Gadgets like toasters, coffee makers, microwave ovens and the like can be disposed of responsibly. Lab equipment meets the criteria of e-waste definition, and includes hot plates, microscopes and calorimeters.
Smaller parcels of e-waste include objects you might not think twice about throwing away. Light bulbs can contain mercury and need to be disposed of properly, like at a Home Depot or Ikea, both of whom feature take-back services. Used batteries should never be thrown in the trash. When they sit in landfills they get warmed up and emit noxious gases that are harmful to children and adult health and the environment. Printer cartridges also count as e-waste and should be sent back to the manufacturer or recycled at a retail store.
E-waste can sit in our landfills for years, and although it comprises less than 5% of all landfill waste physically, it is responsible for over 70% of the toxic gas that is released from these regions. When handled irresponsibly, developed countries send their e-waste to underdeveloped countries, which is a problem for humanity – but even developed countries suffer from buying products manufactured in these underdeveloped countries due to e-waste. Third world countries, laden with e-waste often send toys back in to our country, putting our children at risk – a result of mismanaging electronic waste.
With E-Waste Defined, How Do We Handle It?
E-waste is known to contain hazardous substances like cadmium, lead, chromium and copper. It endangers humans everywhere, putting the liver, lungs, and brain at risk. It is known to interfere with the development of growing kids. Not only that, but electronic waste that lingers in landfills seeps into the soil, polluting our plants, and causes air and water pollution. The air pollution in turn causes the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. If we do not handle it correctly, it will continue to damage our health and home.
E-waste can be handled in four different ways. You can throw out electronic waste, you can donate it to be reused, you can recycle it, or you can sell it. As discussed, throwing out electronic waste is irresponsible and harmful. Recycling, selling or donating your used devices are the best options. If you choose to recycle your e-waste, be sure you are working with a responsible e-recycler that does not simply import the waste into another country.
Donating your old electronic devices can be rewarding, as can selling your old gadgets and making a few bucks. In both cases, don’t linger too long – electronic devices depreciate in value and usefulness very quickly. Keep your gadgets organized, this way you won’t make impulsive purchases, and you will have enough time to be rid of ones you don’t need. The definition of E-Waste doesn’t have to mean something negative. Together we can turn e-waste into tomorrow’s solutions.