It is an unfortunate fact that most electronics and appliances, including computers, cell phones, televisions, batteries and refrigerators, end up in landfills. Indeed, only about 20% of the world’s annual accumulation of electronic waste is recycled. While it may be convenient to put these items in the garbage, this can have serious consequences for the environment, public health and workers’ rights. Using an electronic recycling service can help you dispose of your e-waste safely and responsibly.
Keep Harmful Metals and Chemicals From Soil and Groundwater
The majority of household appliances and electronics contain toxic heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, beryllium and lead. They also contain hazardous chemicals, like brominated fire retardants. As e-waste breaks down in landfills, these metals and chemicals leach into the surrounding soil and groundwater. This could pose a significant threat to public health as exposure to them has been linked to various health problems, including neurobehavioral disturbances, abnormal thyroid function and cancer.
Many of the electronics and appliances that are thrown away can be refurbished and reused. They may also contain parts that can be extracted and used in the manufacture of other items. For example, several of the toxic heavy metals listed above can be recovered and used again. This reduces the energy usage and pollution generated by the manufacturing process. It also saves money. It is estimated that mining these metals from ore is 13 times more expensive than recovering them from electronic waste.
Safeguard Workers’ Rights
E-waste that is not disposed of using electronic recycling services often ends up being sent to unregulated recycling workshops in developing countries. At these workshops, laborers typically use heat and acid to extract valuable metals by hand. They do so without access to protective equipment and technology, and without the protection of adequate labor laws.
It is estimated that the world will throw away roughly 57 million metric tons of electronic waste in 2020 and, unless drastic action is taken, this number will only increase during the coming years. This is an urgent problem. The use of electronic recycling is a vital part of the global solution to this important issue.