Electronic waste poses a serious threat to both the environment and the population when disposed of incorrectly. Electronic waste, or e-waste, represents the fastest growing segment of waste in the industrialized world.
Recycling your old electronics helps to keep your home and organization free from the piles of old equipment, helping to create a cleaner, healthier, and safer environment. As an individual, and as part of an organization, we are all responsible for the damage created when we improperly dispose of hazardous waste. Responsible e-waste recycling means being careful about where your e-waste is taken for recycling, how the material is processed, and who is doing the processing.
Laws and Regulations
Electronic recyclers are NOT created equal. There are things that need to be asked before you decide to drop off your e-waste with the hopes of having it properly processed and recycled. Responsible recyclers will differentiate themselves from those illegally, or improperly recycling by being able to provide written documentation on various aspects of the recycling process.
- Downstream Processors: Most recyclers will need to employ the use of outside processors or mills that will further process recycled material into a raw material ready to be sent back into the manufacturing process. In order to recycle within the confines of the law, recyclers must have written documentation of the processors used to smelt, mill, melt, or grind materials back into a usable manufacturing material and these processors, for the most part, must be within the borders of the United States. It is illegal to send certain electronics overseas for processing.
- Documented Operating Procedures: A responsible electronic recycling company will make available upon request the written policies and procedures that govern how electronics are processed. The policies are created in order to ensure the safety of workers, protection of the environment, and the effective and efficient recycling of all electronic components.
- Sensitive Data: It is no secret that computers, cell phones, PDA’s, and other electronic devices contain sensitive, personal information that, in the wrong hands, could compromise your identity. A reputable electronic recycler will shred any and all memory containing devices including hard drives, cell phones, flash drives, and disks. Electronic recyclers should always be certified by a 3rd party organization such as The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). The electronic recycler should be able to provide both documentation of the physical destruction of any electronic media that may be found as well as documentation of the process used to discover and destroy any information found. Be aware, the resale value of cell phones and hard drives can be a tempting prospect to some, a certified recycler will have controls and processes in place that ensure your information is securely destroyed by shredding.
Currently, electronics are recycled at a rate of approximately 13%, sending the other 87% of discarded electronics to the landfill. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of energy saved by recycling just the laptops that are discarded each year, over 3,500 homes could be powered… for an entire year. Think of the energy and material savings the United States alone could experience if all organizations and individuals began recycling obsolete electronics.
All it takes is a conscious decision to recycle or a push to have your organization begin utilizing an electronic recycler. To learn more about electronic recycling or how you can recycle your electronics, call us at 402.898.5000.