More than two million tons of e-waste were thrown out in 2009. Three years later, the numbers are only rising. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only about 25 percent of those electronic products were recycled. With soil and water contamination on the rise and the conservation of natural resources decreasing, it’s time to talk about the benefits of e-waste recycling.
Electronics are made from valuable resources such as metals, plastics and glass. These highly engineered materials require energy to mine and manufacture – all of which could be conserved if electronics were reused and recycled by the consumer. For example, almost all the materials used to make a cell phone can be recycled, including copper, silver, gold and palladium. If we recover these metals from used phones it will reduce extraction of raw metals from the earth.
By recycling waste, air and water pollution can be prevented, as well as greenhouse gas emissions caused by manufacturing virgin materials, according to epa.gov. According to the site, one million recycled laptops save the amount of energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,000 U.S. homes in a year.
Prevents Soil Contamination
Computers and TVs contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to our soil and water supply. Instead of dumping these electronics that are loaded with lead, mercury and chemical flame retardants, find out how to get rid of them correctly. Recycling or disposing of e-waste properly can prevent the hazardous materials from contaminating our water and soil, which in turns saves trees, plants, wildlife and people.
Creates New Jobs
The more e-waste we recycle, the more professionals we’ll need to refurbish the items to make them usable again. It can open up new markets for companies working with the materials and components we recycle. Charitable companies can reuse electronic devices by giving them to people who can’t afford them. Professionals can use the recovered metals from cell phones to create jewelry or art. According to epa.gov, the plating, automotive and electronics industries can use the materials from cell phones to make products such as garden furniture, license plate frames, containers and car parts. Recycling e-waste creates new jobs to benefit the economy.
Provides Return Incentives
When you upgrade your computer, TV or cell phone, the old model generally collects dust in your garage or drawer, or even worse, at the county landfill. With soil and water contamination increasing, many more companies are offering buy-back incentives for customers willing to recycle their cell phones. Recycling, mining and retail industries realize instead of mining raw materials they could use the already available metals and plastics found in these products. PaceButler.com, a corporation that re-sells and recycles used cell phones, offers a cash-in program where consumers mail in their used cell phones for money. So if you are thinking of upgrading your phone systems, this might be an option.
Increases Energy Efficiency
It costs less money to recycle e-waste for usable plastics and metals than it does to mine and process new materials from soil. According to NationalGeographic.com, recycling aluminum takes 95 percent less energy than producing new aluminum from raw materials. “Recycling of plastics can save up to 70 percent energy, recycling of glass up to 50 percent energy, while recycling of steel can save up to 60 percent energy,” the site reports. Instead of mining new materials, which can cause air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and increases our dependence on oil, let’s recycle and refurbish e-waste.