Why it’s Important to Recycle Electronics
Many people agree that recycling, in general, is important. So why is it that more people participate in the recycling of materials like plastics, paper and glass than the recycling of televisions, computers and other electronic devices? It is just as important to recycle electronics as it is to recycle any other materials. Some people even argue that recycling electronics is actually more important when it comes to the impact it has on our environment and the health and well-being of the human race.
The Benefits of Recycling Electronics
In the United States alone, the average individual replaces their electronic devices every 2 to 4 years. So what do you do with the old electronic devices that you no longer need because you now have new, improved and updated versions? Recycling your old electronics is a much wiser and much more responsible way to get rid of your old, unwanted electronics.
Recycling our e-waste (also referred to as “e-cycling”) provides the following benefits:
E-cycling helps to conserve our natural resources
Electronic devices contain a variety of valuable materials. Gold, copper, aluminum and other useful materials can be stripped from old electronics and recycled for use in new commodities and products. The ability to recycle these materials helps to prevent the need for extracting virgin materials from the earth, thus conserving more of our natural resources.
A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey revealed that one metric ton of computer e-waste actually contains more gold than the amount of gold recovered from about 17 tons of gold ore.
E-cycling also reduces levels of greenhouse gas emissions
The use of recycled materials essentially consumes considerably less energy than the use of virgin materials when it comes to making new products. Due to the fact that less energy is being consumed, lower levels of greenhouse gases are being emitted.
According to an estimation done by the U.S. EPA, recycling a million computers will actually prevent the release of the same amount of greenhouse gases as the yearly emissions of more than 17,000 automobiles.
E-cycling helps protect our health as well as the environment
Along with the valuable materials that are contained in electronic gadgets, there are also a number of hazardous substances as well. Even the smallest amounts of these potentially harmful toxins can be especially hazardous if they are released into our soil, water and/or air. E-cycling helps protect our health as well as our environment by keeping these hazardous substances out of the incinerators and landfills.
The U.S. EPA claims that 40% of lead and 70% of other potentially harmful toxins that are found in landfills, such as mercury, polybrominated flame retardants and cadmium, came from electronic waste.
Where Should We Recycle Our Electronics?
It is recommended that we recycle our electronics at BAN aka Basel Action Network-reviewed recycling centers. The facilities do not export electronic waste to developing countries. If not available near you, you should contact the manufacturer of your electronic devices. By law, electronics manufacturers must provide recycling services to their consumers.
Recycling in general is very important for our environment, for our health and for our entire planet. We should make recycling our electronic waste as of a much a priority as we do when it comes to recycling other materials.