What should I do with old electronics?
In these times of digital devices with one-year-warranties, short lifespans and two-year contract periods, it’s easy to find yourself with a whole box or drawer full of broken or outdated gadgets.
According to research, the USA tosses out over 100 million cell phones every year, along with 41.1 million desktops and laptop computers and 20 million TVs. Only 13% of e-waste is properly recycled or disposed of, which poses a real problem.
What is the problem with e-waste?
Electronic waste contains dangerous chemicals so it needs to be disposed of properly to avoid air pollution, soil contamination and leaching into water. It’s not safe for e-waste to sit in a landfill, where it can pose a real threat to the environment and to human health.
Human health risks range from brain damage and kidney disease to genetic mutations. An example of where this is a serious problem is in Guiyu, China, which has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. In the villages of Guiyu, 7 out of 10 have too much lead in their bodies; and 82% tested positive for lead poisoning.
E-waste often lands up in developing countries in the east as well as in rural China and Hong Kong, shipped there by “e-waste recyclers” who claim to safely recycle e-waste. That’s why it’s important to do your research and make sure that your old electronics are landing up in the right places.
So what is the right thing to do with all this e-waste?
To dispose of your old electronics properly:
- Find and contact a certified e-waste recycler that is committed to safely and responsibly recycling electronics
- If your old, outdated electronics still work, look into donating them to charity or selling them online
- Check if your local electronics retailers have a drop-off point or recycling programme for old electronics
- Check with your municipality or local schools and universities to find out about drop-off locations and dates in your area
Now that you know what to do, encourage your colleagues, neighbors and friends to recycle and dispose of their e-waste in the correct manner. Every bit helps!