The digital world is a fast-paced environment. Almost every year, huge brands release an updated version of their models. Because people heavily rely on technology, many of us update our mobile phones, laptops, appliances, and other electronics to the latest model. If you need to update your electronics regularly, you should know how to handle and dispose of electronic waste.
Many businesses and cities have implemented eco-friendly disposal methods to help reduce e-waste. Unfortunately, some people still don’t know how to dispose of them without harming the environment.
There are many disposal techniques, but you should know how to handle them properly. Some electronic devices contain metals, copper, and silver, which we can repurpose if disposed of properly.
What is Electronic Waste, and Why is it a Problem?
Our world runs on technology. We use electronic devices to finish our daily tasks with ease. As these devices improve, we dispose of our previous ones. An electronic device classifies as e-waste once you discard it–whether working or not. The constant influx of improved gadgets made us generate more and more e-waste yearly.
Most electronic waste contains materials, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, that are toxic to the environment, and it is one of the most significant sources of waste worldwide. Improper disposal will most likely contaminate the public water system and soil and pollute the air.
While some of us try to recycle our old electronics, many e-waste needs a recycling facility. However, some facilities may need more resources to dispose of them properly. It may still be a potential hazard to the environment and human health–think again the next time you think of throwing them into the trash.
Understanding The Environmental Impact of Electronic Waste
Uninformed people who like to dispose of small devices dismantle, burn, or burn these items. Though these are easy ways of disposal, it is not appropriate. People may face many environmental consequences if e-waste is improperly disposed of.
Burning affects air quality even if you only burn a few smartphones or wires. When you burn these devices, this process releases toxic fumes and particles into the air. Some contain plastics, which we know are very harmful to the environment. It may also cause health problems like cancer. Additionally, releasing heavy metals into the air may cause respiratory issues.
When you throw e-waste in your garbage bins, this may end up in a landfill. Over time, the hazardous materials may seep into the soil and cause contamination. Planted crops may absorb heavy metals’ toxins and cause human illnesses.
The toxins may also leak into the groundwater. Contamination may reach groundwater, which streams going to ponds, rivers, and lakes. Most toxins from heavy metals cause acids that damage marine life.
Legal Requirements for Electronic Waste Disposal
Because disposing of electronic garbage in landfills might result in the discharge of dangerous elements into the environment, several municipalities have banned the practice.
Copper, gold, and several other precious metals are examples of valuable and recyclable elements in discarded electronic equipment. We waste these essential resources and contribute to the depletion of the earth’s natural resources when we toss these goods into landfills.
Some cities also require local businesses and companies to comply with waste management. These cities require establishments to submit reports about the amount of e-waste these establishments generate. This regulation can monitor and ensure that e-waste from these businesses complies with the city regulation.
Best Practices for Handling and Disposing of Electronic Waste
E-waste continues to be an issue as technology innovates rapidly. We must recognize that many of us want to have the best and most updated models of electronic devices. If you have decided to dispose of your old electronics, here are some best practices you can do when it comes to handling and disposing of e-waste.
Wipe Out Stored Data
Electric devices such as smartphones and laptops usually contain personal information. We use them to store passwords, individual details, and other confidential documents. Not clearing your devices will expose you to possible identity theft and fraud risks.
Like smartphones, company devices may also store confidential information. Trade secrets, customer data, and financial records may fall into the wrong hands if these data are kept from your device.
Follow City Regulations
All cities are committed to eco-friendly disposal since climate change is evident. These cities may have different regulations when it comes to the removal of e-waste. Doing this can help you avoid massive fines and contribute to public health and safety.
Hire a Disposal Expert
Hiring someone to do it for you is the most convenient way to dispose of e-waste. Dumpster rentals and hauling companies know how to deal with hazardous materials, especially those that come from e-waste.
In addition, they also partner with charities, shelters, and recycling facilities. They know where to bring your e-waste for proper disposal.
Recycling and Reuse Options for Electronic Waste
Donating Usable Devices
Donating useful gadgets may make a difference in your community. Many institutions, such as schools, libraries, and community centers, often need technological devices. You may assist these groups by contributing usable equipment and providing access to technology to folks who would not have it otherwise.
You can reuse electronic devices for different purposes. You can reduce the e-waste that ends in recycling facilities. When you repurpose an electronic device, you only take the valuable component and use them for another project.
Old components like keyboards and game controllers can be repurposed as toys for kids. Electronics with LEDs can be used as lighting for fixtures.
Refurbishing or Repair
Refurbishing is the process of restoring the original condition of an electronic device. It may work like new without having to buy another machine. Refurbishing includes troubleshooting the system’s possible damages and replacing parts you cannot use anymore.
How to Find Electronic Waste Recycling Near You
Check Local Government Listing
Because of the commitment of cities to waste management, they may have listings of e-waste facilities in your area. You can check the city or county’s waste management department or website to know if an e-waste recycler is in your area.
Some cities also organize an e-waste program. Residents and business owners may drop their discarded electronic devices or have them picked up by a local contractor without paying fees.
Looking up search engines is the easiest and broadest way of searching. If your location is turned on on your device, you only need to search for “e-waste recyclers near me,” It will generate results in a click.
Online search is also helpful if you are looking for a one-stop shop of items to remove. Usually, dumpster rentals and hauling companies offer pick-up of e-waste and other household or office items.
Look for Certified E-Waste Facilities
Certified e-waste facilities have the right resources to dispose of discarded electronic devices. In addition, a regular individual may need to learn what type of heavy metals an electronic device may contain.
Reputable facilities have a DPA/EPA identification number and insurance. They may also provide a report to ensure that the electronic devices they have destroyed and discarded e-waste properly.
Finding a facility that caters to electronic waste is more challenging than looking for landfills. You can easily search for dumps, but only a few can recycle e-waste. These wastes should not be included in your regular garbage and should only be disposed of by authorized facilities.
Tips for Reducing Electronic Waste in Your Home or Business
Buy Durable Electronic Devices
A long-lasting electrical item may take a beating and keep on ticking. These are likewise built to last, so replacing them is rare. The requirement for new equipment may be mitigated if its useful life can be prolonged. Though it may cost more, durable electronic devices may save you more money in the long run.
When your electronic device is defective, you should consider repairing it before deciding to dispose of them. Many manufacturers offer free check-ups and troubleshooting if they malfunction. In addition, repair also increases the lifespan of your devices.
Choose Sustainable Products
Sustainable products may include recycled metals that are used for your electronic device. When electronic devices are manufactured, natural resources such as metals, plastics, and rare earth minerals are frequently extracted from the earth. Also, the production process can generate substantial quantities of greenhouse gases and other contaminants.
The different recycling options depend on the unique properties of your e-waste. Some need to be dismantled to remove the metals that can be reused. You may also donate usable items to charities or shelters to save from paying landfills or recycling fees. When you do this, you help reduce the environmental impact of e-waste, even in a small way.