I often hear from organizations writing with the intention of sharing valuable information about a topic of relevance to all of us. This past week I heard from PCLiquidations.com. They shared their Complete Guide to Electronic Waste Recycling with me. Click here to check it out.
According to PCLiquidations.com, Electronics is becoming one of the fastest-growing solid waste streams in the world. As devices become more accessible and affordable, more and more of these items go into landfills. According to DoSomething.org, the United States is the biggest contributor of e-waste annually. Americans throw away 9.4 million tons of used electronics each year.
The World Econonic Forum says only 20 percent of the world’s e-waste is properly handled. The remaining 80 percent is dumped in landfills, incinerated, or illegally dumped to developing nations. That is a “waste” because harvesting e-waste is more viable and profitable than mining earth’s ores for new minerals. Most popular devices are a veritable mine of precious metals that include platinum, gold, silver, and cobalt. They also contain high amounts of tin and aluminum.
Making things worse, some gadgets are purposely designed to function slower or break over time to prompt users to buy new or more. More often they not, tech companies discontinue support for older models to make it more practical to buy the new version instead of maintaining or repairing their old ones.
More Devices Than Humans
As the price continues to drop for gadgets, more and more people can afford them. Affordable price points drive higher demand for devices, even in low-income areas. A lower profit margin is a business strategy that increases sales even at lower prices, which fuels the cycle of unnecessarily buying gadgets. According to the 2014 data, there are more mobile phones than there are people in the whole world. In fact, popular gadgets such as tablets and smartphones are multiplying faster than humans.
Large quantities of raw materials are needed to make new electronics, and the earth is rapidly running out of them. Fortunately, as the awareness of the negative effects of waste is spreading, industries are pushing for greener solutions to obtain such resources, and one of them is by wisely utilizing what already exists.
Political scientist, Ruediger Kuehr, who is also a co-founder of the “Solving the E-Waste Problem” (StEP) initiative, found that over $21 billion dollars is spent on the production of electronic goods yearly. It takes 320 tons of gold and more than 7,500 tons of silver to make these devices. However, only 15 percent of them are recovered.
Kuehr and his colleagues believe that recycling is the solution because the rapid demand for electronic goods and short product cycles are increasing.
The website provided to me by PCLiquidations.com includes a list of organizations that accept donated electronics, a list of companies that recycle their own products, and lists of other organizations that can safely take them off your hands. Be sure to check out the site!