What To Do With Electronic Waste – E-Waste

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

One of the biggest decisions a company or home user has to make after making the decision to upgrade their electronic devices is what to do with the old outdated equipment.

There are still many people and companies out there who are not aware of why it is so important that you recycle your old electronics. I wanted to go over some of the main reasons why all of us should be joining in.

The Federal government requires that companies producing over 220 pounds of electronic waste tested hazardous be disposed of in proper manners.

There are currently no federal regulations for organizations producing less than 220 pounds of hazardous electronic waste, however many states have become more stringent in the proper disposal of e-waste for both businesses and households.

It is estimated that of the approximately 201 million tons of solid waste generated annually in the United States, at least one percent is classified as computer and/or electronic equipment. Of this nearly 2.1 million tons, only an estimated 134,000 tons is actually recycled.  Even though e-waste accounts for a small percentage of all municipal waste, it still accounts for about 70% of heavy metals ending up in our landfills.

Some of the toxic materials you can find in old electronics are lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and more. Computer monitors alone can contain as much as 8 pounds of lead. When these products are just discarded, the harmful toxins will leak out, which is harmful to both the environment and us.

Despite good intentions, much of this nation’s e-waste is exported to developing countries, where processing is done under unsafe conditions and endangers workers and nearby communities. Some progress has been made to end this practice through certification programs. One such program is e-Stewards.

Researcher’s estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of electronic waste from the industrialized world that winds up in the hands of “recyclers” actually goes to a few developing countries: China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

PrintThere, the unregulated materials are crudely handled in acid baths and burn pits, releasing into the air and soil heavy metals and chemicals that are used to make flexible plastics and flame retardants.

Studies of individual scrapping facilities in Ghana and China have measured contaminants and toxic metals like lead present in soil at more than 100 times typical background levels.

According to e-Stewards, recyclers who meet their certification requirements don’t export to developing nations. They follow safe practices for the handling of electronic waste, and adhere to other standards. Many will also reuse and refurbish equipment.

Lastly, when you choose to recycle your electronic equipment; make sure to choose a certified electronics recycler, that way you are ensuring that any data stored on your device is completely removed.

When you just toss an old computer in the trash, you risk having the right hacker find his or her way to your sensitive information. With so many reasons why you should recycle, it is hard to believe that some people could still put their old laptops in the trash.

If you have questions on how to properly recycle your electronic equipment; give us a call and we will answer all of your questions.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

3 Easy Ways to Green-up Your Small Business

E-waste contains all kinds of nasty stuff, including lead, mercury and cadmium. Sadly, much of this waste gets shipped to landfills and smelters in developing countries, exposing tens of thousands of people to harm.

Your first question when seeking to get rid of office equipment should be this: Can someone still use this stuff? If yes, post it on Craigslist or eBay. It’ll be gone in a New York minute.

If it’s beyond repair, you’ve got a few options.

The best is to find a recycler that’s involved in the Basel Action Network’s e-Stewards program, a group of companies that have vowed not to export hazardous waste to poor countries.

Another option is to give it back to the manufacturer. The problem with this approach is you can’t be sure they’ll use a morally sound recycler.

To sum up, here are your options:

Best: If the device is still operational, sell or donate it.

Second best: Find an electronics recycler near you that is an e-Steward member.

Third best: Use the manufacturer’s take back program.


Craigslist.org: Sell or donate your unwanted (but functional) electronics. http://craigslist.org/

E-stewards.org: Lists recyclers that have pledged not to dispose of hazardous e-waste in developing countries. http://www.e-stewards.org/local_estewards.html

Epa.gov: Find local recyclers. View a list of manufacturer take back programs. http://www.epa.gov/waste/inforesources/news/2009news/08-r2.htm

Buy a water cooler
These aren’t just for idle chitchat! By quenching your thirst at the water cooler you avoid having to buy plastic water bottles—the scourge of Earth.

According to this story in Outside Magazine, there is a flotilla of plastic crap the size Texas in the Pacific Ocean – wait, scratch that: the “Eastern Garbage Patch” is actually twice the size of Texas. http://outside.away.com/outside/culture/200912/david-de-rothschildplastiki-1.html

Don’t go to work
Skype, Google Wave, GoToMeeting. The technology required for telecommuting is cheap and readily available.

And there’s no better way to lower your carbon footprint than to reduce your highway time. If your boss wants you in the office, consider carpooling a day or two per week with a coworker.

Or just build a crack case for telecommuting:a quick Google search will give you all the material you need.

Assemble a PowerPoint presentation and channel your inner Al Gore. Just promise us that when you start telecommuting you won’t be that guy in his pajamas jabbering into his cell phone at Starbucks.