What is E-waste?

E-waste (electronic waste) is when any electronic device is not functional, useful, or has outdated. E-waste is one of the rapidly growing parts of the world’s waste stream. It covers all unusable, broken, or obsolete/outdated devices, materials, and components. 

The issues with E-Waste

There tends to be a false understanding when it comes to electronic waste. Often times we believe our devices are non-hazardous at the end of their lifespan, unfortunately, this is far from the case

This could be thought of as the smooth surfaces and the small size and weight of the devices that make it seem like it is not a waste. When you see images of old televisions and computers/laptops in landfills you can only see the product itself which may not seem alarming but it is what is inside that makes electronic waste, not only a problem but a danger. The insides of our devices can contain a host of harmful materials, including:

Beryllium
Mercury
Cadmium
Lead
Brominated flame retardants
Arsenic

All of these materials and elements can have a serious human impact if they aren’t handled correctly and exposure occurs. They can be the reason for organ damage, neurological damage, and severe illness. These problems are a risk to the workers that directly handle e-waste and a possible threat to communities that are shipped excess e-waste.

Electronic Pollution: The Effects of E-Waste on the Environment

Electronic waste has a very large global impact on the earth’s air, water, and soil:

Burning e-waste can be used as a scraping method or way to extract valuable metals such as copper. However, the burning of monitors and other electronics can lead to the release of pollutants (such as hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and brominated dioxins) into the air. This affects our overall health and air quality measures.

Heavy metals such as lead, barium, mercury, and lithium can be found in mobile phones and laptop/computer batteries. When these metals are improperly handled or disposed of in a landfill, they can leak into the soil and can eventually reach the groundwater. When they reach groundwater they can pollute lakes, streams, and rivers and they become more toxic and dangerous.

Electronic Recycling Solutions for Your Business

Since e-waste is so damaging to the environment, Businesses may be confused and wondering how to effectively dispose of devices. However, there are simple ways for your business to dispose of technology responsibly and not make it worse.

Here are three steps to help your business handle its electronic recycling,

Make Informed Purchases

The best way to avoid having to deal with e-waste is by not letting electronics become a waste in the first place. This method of e-waste management starts at the purchasing stage.

Oftentimes, companies will make bulk electronics purchases for employee use. Rather than going for a cheaper and short term choice. Companies should do research and purchase technology that will be in use for a long time. This will be environmentally better as well as more cost-effective

Repair or Upgrade Your Electronics

.When it comes to electronics, older doesn’t always mean obsolete. This is an area where your IT department can help. Having IT evaluate the cost-benefits of repairing or upgrading will let you know if you need to purchase new pcs or they can have a few hard and software upgrades.

Sell, Swap, or Donate Your Electronics

When your office electronics have truly reached the end of their lifespan, it’s important to remember one thing: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Whether you choose to sell or donate your company’s used electronics, it’s important to ensure that your IT department has thoroughly wiped any electronic equipment of company information prior to selling it.