Go Green With Electronics Recycling
31 Mar, 2016
Technological advancements make our computers faster and our phones more compact, but what happens when your current device is obsolete? Most people get a new cell phone in less than 18 months and over 115,000 computers are discarded daily in the United States. All of this adds up to a lot of e-waste – over 3,000,000 tons in 2013 alone. One way to combat this problem is by recycling electronics and appliances through municipal or for-profit organizations.
What is e-waste?
E-waste, short for electronic waste, is a term for outdated or obsolete electronics and appliances. As device lifespans grow shorter, e-waste has become the fastest growing waste stream on the planet. It’s estimated that over 50 million tons of e-waste are produced each year, only 10-20 percent of which is recycled. Many electronics contain hazardous and toxic materials that require special handling, such as lead, mercury and even arsenic. This is why it is imperative that e-waste is recycled and kept out of our landfills in order to prevent air, soil and water pollution.
What is the process for recycling an appliance or electronic device?
Recycling your computer, TV or appliance allows recycling companies to gather valuable parts after a unit is disassembled and sorted by material type. Scrap metals are collected, packaged and sold up the value chain to other metal processors who will melt them down and use them to build new goods. The leftover plastics are recycled into components for new electronic devices or other plastic products such as lawn furniture or storage containers. Putting recycled materials back into the manufacturing stream creates jobs, conserves resources and helps maintain a safe, clean environment.
How can I find where to recycle my electronics, TV, appliances or other e-waste?
Never recycle your electronics with a company that isn’t certified. Look for a company that has certifications from R2/RIOS or eStewards. For example, RecycleForce is an R2 (Responsible Recycling)/RIOS (Recycling Industry Operating Standard) certified recycler. These certifications are for electronics recyclers to demonstrate that electronics are being recycled with the highest standards for data privacy, environmental controls, employee health and safety, and corporate responsibility. With these certifications, you can rest assured that there is an audited management system in place with a framework for processes, procedures and improvements.
How can I keep my data safe when recycling a computer or smartphone?
Your data is important, but don’t let this keep you from recycling your e-waste. Certified recyclers have strict guidelines for proper data destruction methods where recyclers are required to sanitize, purge or destroy data on all hard drives and data storage devices. This eliminates the need for you or your company to wipe your hard drives clean before recycling computers or other electronic devices.
Does recycling electronics make a difference?
Be part of the solution and help conserve our natural resources. Did you know that recycling one million laptop computers saves the energy equivalent of 3,657 US homes in a year? Not sure how to begin? Take a look around your home – you can get started by collecting old cell phone chargers or outdated devices. Do your part to help save our planet!
RecycleForce, a 501(c)3 organization, is a social enterprise in Indianapolis, IN offering some of the most comprehensive and innovative recycling services around while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. Taking electronic waste and other recyclables provided by residents and corporate partners, RecycleForce deconstructs these items, recycles the materials and disposes of the waste safely and cleanly. The scrap metals and other reusable materials collected in this process are then sold to help pay for job training programs and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated men and women in order to support their re-entry back into society.