The True Impact of Not Recycling Old Electronics

Our electronic devices can be a highly useful and truly beneficial part of our everyday lives. We use them to connect with each other, locate information, provide us with directions and give ourselves countless hours of entertainment. Although they can sometimes cause us to live more virtual lives, they are also capable of keeping us in closer connection with the world surrounding us.

The Downside of Electronics

There are, however, downsides to electronics. Their components can be potentially harmful to our environment as well as to us, if we just throw them away and leave them to leach into the land. In an ideal situation, all of us would reuse, repair and repurpose all of our electronic devices until it was no longer possible. At that point in time, we would responsibly recycle them. Sorry to say, statistics reveal that that ideal is nothing even close to our reality.

In the year 2014, smartphone sales worldwide increased by 23%. However, only 27% of the world’s e-waste is actually recycled every year, according to the EPA. This means that our consumption of mobile gadgets and other devices continues to grow while we continue to throw our older ones out with the trash. This means that in 2010, out of 2.44 million total tons of e-waste, only about 649,000 of those tons were actually recycled. Mary A. Gade, EPA Region 5 Administrator claims that the act of recycling electronic equipment is not as convenient as setting it out in a bin like with paper and plastics, but the environmental and health benefits to be gained from recycling e-scrap are incredible. Also, about 50% of the gadgets that are thrown out actually still work.

If collectively all Americans as a whole recycled all 130 million cellular phones that are discarded every year, enough energy would be salvaged to power 24,000 dwellings. If the one million laptops that are thrown away each year were actually recycled, the equivalent amount of energy to power 3,657 homes would be saved.

Benefits of Recycling Electronics

By recycling electronics rather than manufacturing new ones, we’d save more than just energy. Metals used to mine for new supplies could instead be reused. This could prevent more pollution of our water and air from the processes that are used in harvesting those metals. With every million cellular phones that re recycled, we could recover 33 lbs. of palladium, 75 lbs. of gold, 772 lbs. of silver and 35,274 lbs. of copper.

A large amount of the metals that are used in our electronic devices are limited in supply. So, what can you do to help?

The recycling of electronic products is actually easier than you might think. All the Best Buy stores in the US accept used electronic products specifically for recycling, and it doesn’t matter where you initially purchased the devices. Also, if you’d like to make a bit of extra money for your recycling efforts, there are companies like Amazon and Gazelle who offer money and/or store credit for your old smartphone devices. Donating your old electronic gadgets is another way to recycle. There are a lot of organizations out there that accept donations of your old used cellular phones, and they’ll use the earnings for the funding of great causes all across the globe.

One of the best things you can do is slow things down and keep your electronic devices longer. The newer models may look glamorous and impressive, but it’s better to hold on to your old one for a while longer and please, when you do decide to upgrade, remember to recycle.


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