How often do you toss up your laptop, TV, and cellphone and buy a new one? Where do these discarded items go? Are there any viable ways to recycle electronics or e-waste?
According to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Americans trash over 100 million cell phones, 20 million TVs, and more than 41.1 million desktops in an average every year. The United States produced 11.7 million tons of electronic trash in the year 2014 alone. The number is more frightening if you consider the total production of global e-waste. Do you know how much of the global e-waste is recycled each year? Only 15% to 20%! The figure is a little better for the U.S. though.
In these gadget-driven days, the amount of dumped wastage will be growing bigger day by day. The priority should be to find alternative ways to recycle electronics, not to use developing nations as global landfills.
What are the Health Risks the Dumped Electronics Pose?
Unrecycled electronics can end up in two places – in a landfill or or dumped in a third-world country.
E-waste discharges many hazardous chemicals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium that are detrimental to human health. These substances also contaminate the soil, poison the water, and pollute the air.
These waste materials are responsible for severe health risks. You can suffer from kidney failure to cancer, and even genetic mutations. The Chinese city of Guiyu is the largest dumping ground for e-waste in the world. These could not only have devastating effects on the environment but also ruin the health of the people living in the area. In fact, as per assessment, seventy percent children living in the city have too much lead in their body.
Ghana is another huge digital dumping ground in the world. Agbogbloshie, the so-called commercial district on the outskirt of Accra, is a wasteland in the literal sense. Millions of tons from the West’s electronic waste have been piling up each year. The laborers, including children, suffer from serious health implications.
5 Ways to Recycle Electronics
Do you want to get rid of unused electronics without destroying the environment? Follow these steps:
Donate for Refurbishing or for Appropriate Disposal
Whether your devices still work or nott, donate them to an organization that will refurbish or dispose them sensibly. There are many charities and non-profits that follow the e-Stewards Initiative’s highest standards for recycling e-waste. The World Computer Exchange and National Cristina Foundation are two trusted names.
You can also check your local recreation centers and charities. Don’t forget to collect a receipt for the donation as you can deduct it on the tax return next year.
Find a Recycler
If your gadget is beyond repair, don’t throw them out. Give them to the local communities or nonprofit organizations for proper recycling. For example, the group Call2Recycle has drop-off locations all across the United States. It collects cell phones and rechargeable batteries.
Many towns and cities sponsor collection day events for electronics. Use them! Although, not all the organizations follow proper recycling methods. Many companies either sell or dump them in the third-world countries. What’s the solution? Find a company that is a part of the e-Stewards network. These firms follow high recycling standards and refurbish the usable old electronics.
Take It to the Manufacturer
Many electronic companies run voluntary take-back programs. These provide any of these services – free recycling, money back for old products, or trade-in value. It’s a good option if there are no e-Stewards near you.
Dell – It takes back your old computers. You will get a prepaid FedEx return label for shipping the products to the store.
Apple – Any store of the brand will take the old gadget back. If the device still works, you may get gift cards to use for the purchase of a new product.
LG – The electronics company offers free packaging recycling and has several drop-off sites.
Sony – It has shared drop-off locations throughout the country. You don’t have to pay any shipping charge to return the old items weighing less than 25lbs.
Canon – You have to register to get access to its recycling program. Plus, you have to pay a small fee for the service.
Some other giant companies including HP and Samsung have take-back and recycling programs. Find out if your manufacturer has any such project.
Recycling Programs by Retailers
Many giant retailers offer full-scale recycling programs. The following are a few of them. You can use the website of EPA to have the full list.
eBay for Charity – You can sell your used gadget or anything else by using this platform. It lets you donate a portion or all the earnings to a charity of your choice.
Dell Reconnect – In a partnership with Goodwill, this program accepts computer and accessories of any brand. Your job is to drop them at any of the selected Goodwill locations across the country.
Amazon – Do you have a pile of old video games and music CDs? The giant e-commerce company will take them, along with any type of electronics, and offer up to $200 of gift cards.
Best Buy – Its recycling option is one of the best out there because it accepts a wide array of devices. What’s better? You can also bring electronics bought from other retailers!
Recycling Programs for Specific Items
Many companies run recycling and take-back programs for particular items. Let’s take a look:
Almost all the U.S. brands manufacturing printers take old cartridges back for recycling. You have to check their websites for detailed information. Staples and Office Depot, two big retail companies, run an affinity program. They offer $2 per cartridge in-store credit for up to 10 cartridges a month.
Fluorescent and CFL bulbs contain mercury. Tossing them into the trash can should not be an option in any way. Many IKEA and Home Depot stores in the U.S. take these light globes back for recycling.
Give your used cell phone from any brand to the AmericanCellPhoneDrive. They will either reuse or recycle it. The telecommunication company Sprint runs a buyback program. It accepts cell phones from any carrier and offers up to $300 account credits in return.
Tossing them into the dustbin is a big no-no because they discharge harmful ingredients into the environment. The Call2Recycle is here to your rescue! It takes all kind of batteries and has several locations throughout the U.S.
It is the responsibility of every human being to reduce their e-waste footprint. No matter where you live, there are safe ways to recycle electronics. Remember that the toxic substances from these products have long-term effects. Our careless actions can not only pollute the surroundings but also make the world uninhabitable for the future generations.