E-waste harmful and growing problem

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1. What is E-WASTE

E-waste is any electrical or electronic equipment that’s been discarded. This includes working and broken items that are thrown in the garbage or donated to a charity reseller like Goodwill. Often, if the item goes unsold in the store, it will be thrown away. E-waste is particularly dangerous due to toxic chemicals that naturally leach from the metals inside when buried.

E-waste is electronic products that are unwanted, not working, and nearing or at the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are everyday electronic products.

The ongoing challenge of how best to dispose of used and unwanted electronics isn’t a new one and dates back at least to the 1970s. But a lot has changed since then, particularly the number of electronics being discarded today.

2. Examples of Communications and Information Technology Devices

  • Cell phones
  • Smartphones
  • Desktop Computers
  • Computer Monitors
  • Laptops
  • Circuit boards
  • Hard Drives

Today, though, a growing amount of e-waste is not considered to be products that have stopped working or become obsolete.

Technological advances are coming at us at such a dizzying speed that a lot of electronic devices that still work fine are the ones considered obsolete.

Think of the many VCR players that got replaced when the DVD player hit the market, and now the DVD players getting replaced by Blu-ray players. If a product is powered electronically and someone thinks they can create a better version, that contributes to e-waste.

What is e-waste Great Lakes Electronics Corporation collection

And we care about this because, for years now, unwanted electronic devices have been filling landfills across the globe. In the U.S. alone, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 60 million metric tons of e-waste end up in landfills every year.

3. How to dispose E-waste

The best way to ensure that your old electronics are not contributing to the e-waste problem is by properly recycling them — a task that can be easier said than done. You can’t simply toss your old computer in the recycling bin and be done with it. Not every state has a law that requires electronics to be recycled, and every municipality has its own method for dealing with discarded electronics. But there are some general rules to follow that will typically ensure that e-waste ends up where it is supposed to and not in a landfill.

4. Check with manufactures

When getting rid of a piece of tech, check with the manufacturer first to see if they have a recycling program. The Environmental Protection Agency has a long list of tech companies that offer some form of a recycling program, and you can search by brand or by device type. Companies like Apple and Sprint have recycling programs that offer credits in exchange for your old tech. Amazon and Best Buy will take on your outdated electronics, even if you didn’t buy from them.

5. Get a recycling center

If it’s just simply time for your device to be sent to the electronics graveyard, seek out the proper recycling center near you. Nonprofit group Call2Recycle offers drop-off locations at retailers across the US where you can get rid of rechargeable batteries and cell phones. Similarly, Earth911 will point you to nearby recyclers who can help you properly discard of your old electronics. Otherwise, make sure to check with your local or state government, as they may provide specific rules on how to go about getting rid of your electronics.

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