With the holidays coming up, many people will receive gifts of new electronics, and every year a new product is touted, a new device is unveiled, and nostalgic items are re-launched with technological upgrades. It’s easy to get caught in the “keeping up with” nature that surrounds the latest and greatest electronic innovations. While it can be overwhelming just trying to keep up with these latest items, especially when companies have upgrade specials every other day, it’s easy to forget that these devices are not meant to be thrown away no matter how obsolete they’ve become. Mobile phones, video game systems, computers, and all sorts of smart devices are being replaced and discarded daily. Electronic waste or “e-waste” is a term that describes these now-obsolete products.
Most electronic devices contain toxic or harmful substances including mercury, lead, beryllium, and chromium. When these items are discarded as trash and end up in landfills these substances break down into our soil and water and even pollute our air. Recycling your unwanted electronics is a straightforward process and can have a profound impact on our carbon footprint. By recycling or re-purposing these items instead of discarding them, we can not only keep waste out of our landfills, but we can also save a multitude of resources. Recycling devices means a reduction in raw materials pulled out of the ground, it saves energy, reduces pollution, and lessens the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. For every one-million smart phones that are recycled we can recover: thirty-five thousand two hundred and seventy-four pounds of copper, seven hundred and seventy-two pounds of silver, seventy-five pounds of gold, and thirty-three pounds of palladium. That is just for smart phones. That doesn’t include TV’s, radios, iPads, computers, printers, headphones, or video game consoles.
How can we help? There are plenty of convenient ways to recycle your electronics. If you’re upgrading just to have the newest version, consider giving or donating your old devices to help someone in need. Many charitable organizations accept these devices. You can resell your old devices using reputable websites or take advantage of any “buy back” programs your service providers may have. Or simply recycle them at a certified electronics recycling location. Many companies that recycle electronics can be certified by outside organizations and are regularly audited to make sure that your electronics will be recycled safely. This way you can be assured that your electronic items are being recycled in a way that is beneficial to our environment and our health.
As with all electronics, personally identifiable information must always be kept safe; before you donate or resell your devices, please be sure you: terminate any auto renewing services attached to the device, clear the memory of contacts, pictures, and sensitive notes, and reset the device to factory default settings. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a wonderful resource where you can recycle or donate your unwanted devices: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling
Recycling a device can seem like a chore, but most places you go to buy a new device will offer services to recycle your old one almost always free of charge. Here at ADKF we make it a point to properly recycle our outdated electronics. While it may take a few extra minutes out of our day the positive impact that recycling our electronic waste has can last a lifetime.