As a species, we’ve always recycled in some form or another, but large-scale, standardized recycling is a relatively new concept. While the practice took a while to catch on in some states, today it is standard for most people in the United States to toss glass, plastic, and metal into the recycle bin, separate from trash.Yet still, this begs the question, “Why is e-Waste recycling so hard for consumers,” when recycling anything else is so much easier.
The Problem with Recycling e-Waste
We’re at a similar point with recycling e-waste (broken, outdated, and unwanted electronics) as we once were with bottles and cans: we know we shouldn’t be simply tossing them in the trash, but we don’t know what to do with them.
If we’re so used to recycling common household items, why isn’t it okay to toss electronics in with the garbage or recyclables? The problem has to do with the components that go into most electronics, ranging from cell phones to cameras to computers.
These types of devices contain both harmful and useful components, which cannot be recycled as a single unit, but must be broken down so they can be used again. Common consumer electronics may include components such as:
Learn more about the environmental cost of e-waste
Why Recycling e-Waste is Important
The rate technology is moving is so fast that electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops are made cheaply, as they are meant to be replaced in a few years when the hardware becomes outdated. Unfortunately, all those devices get thrown onto already-clogged landfills if they are not recycled. Consequences of this include:
Increased landfill influx
Water, air, and ground pollution
Threats to public health
The need to mine more natural resources to keep up with new technology demands
More about the risk of a data breach when refreshing retired data centers
Why is e-Waste Recycling So Hard?
If you’re like a lot of people, then you’ve probably wondered where you can take your old electronics so they can be recycled safely. The problem is that there’s no standardized system in place for recycling individual consumer electronics, and getting them to the right place can be time-consuming and difficult—not ideal for people with busy lifestyles.
With luck, we’ll soon have a system like traditional recycling to make sure everyone has access to electronics recycling or donation, but for the time being, all we have are somewhat clunky solutions to a growing problem.
Options for Safe Disposal of e-Waste
So what do you do with your old electronics? If you’re like most people, you’ve simply given up and tossed a few in the trash, or, even more likely, left them sitting around the house, taking up space. It can be a huge hassle to wipe your data and get rid of a device, so many people resort to doing nothing.
So how can you change that? Here are a few options for responsible e-waste disposal:
Take them to retailers like Staples and Best Buy, who offer free recycling
E-waste collection drives
What’s been your experience with recycling electronics? Respond below!
At ICT, we’re working toward a world that emphasizes e-waste recycling and a renewable planet. Find out more about our services here and let us know how you’re doing on responsible e-waste disposal!
Susannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures