Electronic waste is defined as any appliance or device that utilizes electricity as a power source. This includes computers, laptops, monitors and other connected devices. Technological advances have created a growing obsolescence in appliances and other devices. Commonly known as e waste this type of waste isn’t easily recycled. It is a well known fact that e waste often winds up in landfills or is exported.
Dangers of e waste
It is important to note that you can’t recycle electronic equipment like you recycle paper and metal products. The reason is that most electronic devices contain toxic levels of poisonous substances including:
- Chlorinated Solvents
- Brominated Flame Retardants
- PVC and Cadimium
Health risks from exposure to these poisonous chemicals are extensive. Improper handling and disposal of e waste is cited as the cause for the increase of certain cancers and brain injuries. The toxic chemicals in some electronics have been known to penetrate the groundwater and streams around the landfill poisoning the water.
Dioxin is a known toxic substance that is regularly released through the incineration of plastics. Proper electronic recycling extracts precious metals that can be reused and eliminates the need for incineration.
Benefits of electronic recycling
The most important benefit is the fact that you are saving the environment by keeping toxic chemicals out of landfills and other places. Other benefits include:
- New life for old electronics-those that can be refurbished and reused
- A rich source of raw materials such as gold
- Elimination and reduction of worldwide e waste
Understandably the increasing threat to the environment is reason enough to recycle electronics properly. The other benefits of providing needed computer equipment and recovering raw materials are secondary but just as important.
How you can properly recycle electronics
There are many local agencies that can help you dispose of your old electronics properly. Some manufacturers are required to take back their product to recycle them while other manufacturers voluntarily take back their products and provide incentives for customers.
The very first step you should take before disposing of an old electronic device is to see if anyone is willing to refurbish for you. This could mean donating it to a charity that might have need of the electronic device or deciding to keep it.
The Electronic Take Back Coalition advocates for responsible recycling. Electronics are increasing becoming obsolete due to poor design, expensive parts and short life spans. One of the goals of the coalition is to persuade manufacturers to start creating products that last. They recommend using e stewards to help dispose of electronics properly. If you are interested, you may do additional research at the RecycleYourElectronics.ca website for more information.