The growing use of electronics continues to rise as more and more businesses, schools and individuals get connected. Even appliances in the home use smart features to connect to other devices consumers use. Unfortunately, all those electronics cause environmental damage whether from mining the materials or disposing of them carelessly in landfills. Electronic recycling has grown to respond to the growing use of electronics. Here’s what you need to know.
The first computers that hit the market in the 1980s and tended to last for years before the owner bought a new one. The low turnover didn’t garner much attention from environmentalists or recycling enthusiasts. However, the last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in device turnover, huge growth in technology and more use of rare elements and metals. Business-savvy individuals with a green mind saw an opportunity to recycle and reuse these materials now termed e-waste.
By keeping the devices out of landfills, recycling electronics protect groundwater supplies. The harmful substances like chromium and lead are not left to penetrate the soil or release harmful gases into the air. Recycling lessens the environmental impact as well since there is less need to mine for more minerals deeper into the earth.
Electronic recycling is available in e-waste centers, repair shops and retailers. Some electronic producers may take back the e-waste of their consumers with options such as buy-back programs and trade-in options. Many manufacturers are offering incentives to increase recycling.
A variety of materials are used to create electronics from the plastic that creates the boxes for computers to the copper, platinum and gold used in the circuitry. Common objects recycled include telephones, video and audio players, televisions, digital cameras, scanners and computers. These objects have their materials separated out in order to recycle the various parts. Metals such as lead and gold are separated out and available for reuse.
Millions of e-waste are disposed of annually. Electronic recycling offers an environmentally-friendly alternative when upgrading to new technology.