E-waste is short for electronic waste and there is a surprising amount of it produced every year. You may be surprised to discover that Australia alone created 465,818 tons of e-waste in 2016-2017. Interestingly, the majority of this waste comes from households as they are the end consumer. But, the real question is whether the waste is recyclable or not.
At the moment most of the e-waste produced is not recycled. This needs to be addressed as it is becoming an increasingly serious issue.
What Classifies As Electronic Waste
E-waste is an all-encompassing term that covers any electronic product, including televisions, computers, photocopiers, smartphones, stereos, and even remote control cars. In short, if it has electronics in it and you are getting rid of it, it’s classed as e-waste.
You should note that it doesn’t matter if you are throwing partly used items away or things that are no longer working. The fact that it has electronics means there are potentially hazardous substances in it and expensive metals that can be reused.
1. Environmental factor
It doesn’t matter if you purchase industrial shredders like mastershred.com.au or simply put your e-waste into landfill, if you haven’t disposed of it properly you will be damaging the environment.
Televisions, computers, and even mobile phones contain hazardous material. Specifically, they have cadmium and mercury which is dangerous for the environment and for humans.
If you dispose of these items in landfill or via shredders the hazardous materials will leach into the environment. This will contaminate the soil and kill insects which has a knock-on effect up the food chain.
For example, the mosquito is generally seen as a pest and a pointless insect. But, it is eaten by many other animals which are, in turn, eaten by other animals. Some of these are even eaten by humans. Killing mosquitoes would grind the food chain to a halt and affect every living creature on the planet.
In short, the e-waste must be disposed of properly to protect the environment.
2. Personal Safety
When you throw out electronic items many people forget that they have their personal information on the devices. If they are not disposed of properly then other people can pull the information off the device and use it to steal your identity or even blackmail you. This can be an even bigger issue if it is business electronics as the entire business can be placed in jeopardy.
It is not enough to do a factory reset. The information needs to be removed properly to ensure it is gone forever.
3. It’s Illegal
You may be surprised to learn that disposing of some e-waste incorrectly isn’t just bad practice or bad for the environment, it is also illegal!
Of course, the law is complex, some items are illegal to dispose of, others are not. Even if they are illegal that hasn’t stopped dubious companies from exporting the waste to places like China. But, if you get caught throwing away e-waste incorrectly it can lead to a significant fine.
4. Precious Metals
You probably already know that precious metals on the planet are limited and becoming even more limited. But, what you may not know is that these electronic devices carry a lot of precious metals which can be removed and reused.
In fact, it is estimated that one million cell phones will offer 75 pounds of gold, 35,274 pounds of copper, and as much as 772 pounds of silver.
In short, you may not be able to easily remove the gold, but there are dedicated companies that can and it’s a significant amount of resources.
5. Others Benefit
There are plenty of people in the world who can’t afford the latest smartphone or even a television. BY selling your old electronic items or giving them to people in need, you are helping others to have a better quality of life and its costing you nothing.
In fact, in many cases it is less hassle as you don’t need to take the item somewhere to be disposed of, the other person or company will do it all for you.
Getting Rid Of E-Waste
If you have e-waste that needs to be got rid of then the best bet is to see what schemes are in your area.
1. Local Retailers
An increasing number of local retailers are accepting old electronics. In some cases, this will get you a discount on new purchases. In other cases, it is simply a free service. The retailer will ensure personal information is destroyed and the device is taken apart, allowing many of the components to be reused and reducing the amount of waste produced.
This is often the most convenient way to get rid of your e-waste and save yourself some money.
Another option is to donate your old electronics to charity. They will ensure all the data is wiped and can then sell them on. Recycling is the best way to avoid anything going to a landfill!
If the above two aren’t an option then you’ll need to find a certified recycler or disposal service that will handle everything for you. This ensures the electronics are dismantled and recycled properly, minimizing the potential for waste.
3. E-Waste Disposal Centers
You will find that your local recycling center is set up to receive any electronic waste you have. They will sort it and either ensure its components are recycled or that it is moved onto people that need it.
You should ensure all your data is properly eliminated before you dispose of any electronic item. That’s just common sense!
It Feels Good
Finally, although there are plenty of great reasons to dispose of e-waste properly and help others out, the simple truth is that it feels good. When you pass on your old electronics so that someone else can benefit you will feel like a better person and that’s a great feeling! The fact that you are helping to protect the environment and balance the greed of the have and the have not’s, is simply a bonus!