What Happens to E-waste When It Gets Recycled?
Cell phones, computers, TVs, DVD players, stereos, and printers are among the most common electronic products that can be refurbished or recycled. Others include microwaves, refrigerators, air conditioners, lamps, toys, video-game consoles, and power tools.
Recycling e-waste recovers useful materials — including valuable metals such as gold or copper — that manufacturers can use to make new products. This reduces the energy required to mine, refine, and manufacture new materials and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that by recycling 1 million cell phones, some 35,000 pounds of copper, 33 pounds of palladium, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered.
However, current estimates show that only about 15% to 20% of all e-waste is recycled internationally. In the United States, the average rate of recycling e-waste is a bit higher, approaching 25%. However, most electronic waste still ends up in landfills or gets incinerated, wasting useful resources and releasing toxic chemicals and other pollutants — such as lead, mercury, and cadmium — into the soil, groundwater, and atmosphere to the detriment of the environment.
So, what exactly happens to e-waste when it’s recycled?
4 Negative Effects of E Waste on the Environment
- Effects on the Air – E-waste is also commonly burned, which releases fine particles that can travel thousands of miles, creating numerous health risks to humans and animals.
- Effects on the Soil – Heavy metals and flame retardants can deep directly from e-waste into the soil, which causes contamination of underlying groundwater or contamination of crops that may be planted nearby. When soil is contaminated by heavy metals, crops become more vulnerable to absorbing these toxins, which can cause many illnesses to the population and doesn’t allow the farmland to be as fertile as before. leading to smaller crop yields.
- Effect on Water – Electronics containing heavy metals contaminate groundwater channels, which eventually run to the surface as streams or small ponds of water.
- Effects on Third World Countries – America sends our e-waste to third-world and developing countries, which piles up in landfills and causes tremendous harm to the environment in a variety of ways. We actively contribute to the destruction of places that we commonly enjoy vacationing at just so we have the luxury of not having to deal with the waste back home.
Diverting waste away from landfills prevents pollution that can harm our health and the environment. Reducing, re-using and recycling waste can bring economic gains and secure access to critical raw materials. More jobs at higher income levels are also created by recycling than by landfilling or incinerating waste.
Fewer Landfills Is Always Beneficial to the Environment
Where to Recycle your electronics waste?
When trying to recycle your old computer and electronics, it can be inconvenient when trying to do so because electronics collection facilities are usually out of the way for the average homeowner. Thankfully, electronics recycling charities such as New Life Technology Group where not only recycle electronics waste and turn the unuseful electronics into usable parts to keep these electronics out of landfills as much as possible but they also pick up your electronics at your location, making e waster recycling as convenient as possible.