Gifts are plentiful during the holiday season. But so are retail returns. While many of these items return to the sales floor again, too many of them are disregarded and end up in landfills.
While food and clothing can decompose within months, materials like plastic, rubber, and electronics can literally take a lifetime to decompose. Even though E-waste only makes up 2 percent of America’s landfills, it has a large impact on the environment. Here is how you can properly dispose of your unwanted tech to make sure the amount of waste does not increase.
E-Waste Facts You Should Know
To put things into perspective before reading about proper disposal, here are six shocking facts about E-Waste provided by Tech Reboot.
- About 3.2 million tons of electronic waste are produced in America every year.
- Currently, only 11 percent of E-Waste produced is properly recycled.
- 250 million computers become outdated within the next five years.
- 130 million cellphones are disregarded each year.
- On average, there are 25 consumer products per U.S. household.
- About half of all recycled metals in the U.S. are derived from consumer electronics recycling.
Millions of tons of electronics are produced and compiled in U.S. landfills every year. This is not only a huge eyesore but a huge burden on the environment. And here’s why.
What Happens to E-Waste?
If your device’s return policy expires or you want to declutter your tech collection, the easiest solution may be to just throw the device away in the garbage. This is a big no.
Research shows that these devices release hazardous substances and chemicals that go into the landfills, and unknowingly become incorporated into nature and your day-to-day life.
- Lead: If there is a water source near a landfill with a lot of lead, the water has a great chance of becoming contaminated. Being exposed to high levels of lead, like in drinking water, can lead to lead poisoning, heart, and brain damage as well as increased blood pressure, poorly functioning kidneys, and even death. Exposure to lead can affect both adults and children.
- Mercury: People often become exposed to mercury when eating fish and shellfish. When exposed to mercury, someone can experience tremors, emotional changes, insomnia, headaches, poor mental performance, respiratory failure, and death.
- Zinc: Zinc from landfills can leach into groundwater and other sources. Consuming large levels of zinc can cause metal fume fever, which is a series of flu-like symptoms that lasts for about 48 hours. Long term effects are unknown.
- Nickel: High exposure to nickel can lead to reduced lung function, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis. Like everything listed above, nickel can be found in drinking water.
- Beryllium: Exposure to beryllium is airborne. Breathing it in for long periods can cause cancer as well as liver, kidney, and heart damage. According to the Department of Human Resources and the International Agency for Research on Cancer say that beryllium is a carcinogen.
- Tin: Consuming large amounts of inorganic tin can lead to stomachaches, liver and kidney problems, and anemia. People can be exposed to tin by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, touching soil, and breathing it in.
How Do You Dispose of Your Device?
There are plenty more toxins from E-Waste that are released into the soil, water, and food. Thankfully, it is possible to reduce the amount of E-Waste and chemicals from entering landfills through proper disposal.
Before recycling your device, make sure to clean it properly, back up your data, reset the device, and remove SIM cards.
After this, you can seek a company, like Tech Reboot, that has the resources to recycle, sell, or buy used phones, tablets, laptops, or any other devices.
Many times, your unwanted devices serve more than one purpose. When you are through using your device, companies will often refurbish, resell, or donate it to organizations that can use them.
The simple difference between throwing your device away and handing it over to be recycled can make a significant difference in the environment and other people’s lives.