How to Recycle Old Electronics
The high turnover of electronic equipment has many businesspeople wondering how to recycle old electronics in a secure and lawful way. Indeed, this is a question that is worth spending time considering, as disposing of unwanted or obsolete IT assets or other electronics can potentially cause a disaster on a global scale. Let’s look at the October 2013 Adobe data breach as an example. While this data breach didn’t involve poorly recycled electronics, it did nevertheless see almost 3 million customers have their credit card details fall into the wrong hands. In Adobe’s case, the breach occurred when their point of sale systems were infected with cleverly disguised malware, but it could just as easily have happened when that same point of sale system was poorly disposed of instead of properly recycled.
One of the best ways to conserve the environment is to find sustainable ways to answer the question: how to recycle old electronics? As the volume of global electronic waste nears 100 million tons, the need for electronic recycling is greater than ever.
Thankfully, there are many ways to recycle used electronics, and these processes are being further refined as data destruction methods keep pace with technology.
Recycling old electronics isn’t reserved for businesses and companies, despite the fact that these entities typically contribute a larger share to the total volume of electronic waste than households. Individual responsibility can make an impact too.
Before we explore proven ways to recycle old electronics, we need to understand what the cause of electronic waste is.
What is the Cause of Electronic Waste?
Electronic waste (also called e-waste) is any electronic gadget that is no longer considered useful. Keep in mind that electronic waste includes electronic items that are in good working condition but are rendered obsolete simply because they have been replaced by a newer model. Old personal computers used to make up a big chunk of the total e-waste volume but currently, mobile devices are making a bigger impact, partly due to their relatively short lifespan.
On the whole, electronic waste continues to grow steadily and this means that its effect on the environment will only keep getting worse. The good news is that e-waste comprises a huge portion of recyclable materials including ferrous metals, gold, silver, aluminum, and plastics.
Why You Should Recycle Old Electronics
More and more devices are being pumped out onto the market, making it all the more important to understand what businesses, organizations, and individuals alike should do with electronic waste when those devices have reached the end of their useful lives.
Recycling is a viable way to deal with such waste. Here are four reasons why old electronics should be recycled:
Slows down the depletion of natural resources: There are a great deal of usable components that can be recovered from electronic waste. When they’re reused in new products, we conserve natural resources, cut pollution, and save energy, all of which help to conserve the environment as well as natural resources.
Protects you from harmful elements: We now know that e-waste contains elements that can be harmful to our health. When this waste is carefully collected and isolated for disposal, the risk to our health – and the environment at large – is minimized.
Helps create jobs: Electronic waste management and recycling create hundreds of jobs for specialists and other individuals skilled in the specialty of handling delicate electronic waste.
Conserves landfill space: As a rapidly growing segment of municipal waste, electronic waste can easily take up a lot of landfill space. By recycling, landfill space is saved.
How to Recycle Old Electronics
Here are some viable options to recycle electronic waste:
Reuse some or whole components: Reusing some or whole components of electronic equipment is one way to reduce e-waste. Sometimes, old functioning units can be reused wholly, in which case you’d donate it to someone that could put it to use. Keep in mind, however, that if the electronic device has ever been used to store confidential data, the data should be securely sanitized before the equipment can be donated.
Refurbish: Old but functioning units can be refurbished to work as near new equipment. In fact, most electronics sold as used or second hand is first refurbished.
Recycle select parts: Some components in electronic equipment cannot be repaired for direct reuse, so the best thing is to recycle them for use in new products. Instead of dumping your old gadget into the trash can, take it to a relevant recycling collection point. Thankfully, many top tech companies have vibrant recycling programs with lots of information on the recycling process.
Certified electronics recycling: When you need to know how to recycle old electronics that have been used to store confidential information or are otherwise unsuitable for a donation, choose certified electronics recycling. The process entails the responsible disposal of electronic components by professional recyclers. More importantly, professional handling of e-waste ensures that any sensitive data stored on that equipment is safely and securely disposed of permanently.
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