Many folks don’t realize that you can potentially be polluting when you are tossing your old electronics. This goes for all aspects of electronics such as keyboards, computers, batteries, and even broken circuit boards. Many of these components can contain toxic chemicals that affect the well-being of our planet. Let’s talk about how we can recycle these products.
Short Shelf Life
Anyone who uses electronics daily can tell you that they are not built to last forever. In 2022 it’s hard to find even a 10-year-old who doesn’t have a cell phone. We use computers, cell phones, tablets, and televisions every day. And every day, these devices break. So what are we supposed to do when they break?
Well first, you should understand that they are created to eventually break. And the more we use these objects, the quicker they will reach breaking point. You’ll want to do your research to find the longest-lasting electronics prior to purchase. But advancements in tech mean more access to these gadgets and that means more end up in the trash. It is estimated that we dispose of about 400 million units of electronics per year.
Regardless, they all end up breaking. And many of us just think we’re supposed to toss it in the trash as we would with anything else, right? I mean, has anyone shown us what to do with broken and old electronics? It isn’t as if they come with an instruction manual on how to dispose of it.
One of the most challenging aspects of recycling electronics is finding a way to dispose of the certain materials that these electronics are made of. CRT glass contains lead and should be broken down by using a lead smelter. LCD TVs are generally made with mercury lamps that need to be removed to properly recycle them.
Even after the poisonous materials are removed, much of the plastic that is left is PVC and BFR-treated plastics. Plastic alone is difficult to recycle and even more so for these kinds.
E-waste recycling is not commonplace among most waste management facilities in the U.S. There isn’t much regulation when it comes to recycling these products so only about 25% or less of these electronics are recycled each year. So how do we change this? It starts first with educating electronic users about the components of the devices they use. After more consumers are aware of what their phones or computers are made of, they will understand that it’s not so simply disposed of.
If we have a better understanding of the whole of our devices, then we can figure out how to recycle their parts. However, that’s another large hurdle to overcome within itself. Many regular users of electronics do not understand how to break down their devices or how they are supposed to separate each material for proper recycling.
What usually happens when these electronics are just left to sit in landfills is that they are subjected to the weather. High heat on some of these toxic chemicals causes them to evaporate into the air. Once they are in the air, they contribute to serious respiratory issues or heavy metal poisoning.
Another way they harm the environment and its inhabitants is by seeping into the groundwater. The water on our planet is finite, like many of our other resources. This water is filtered through the aquifer and other ground materials. However, the sheer magnitude of toxic chemicals from other sources and electronic pollution is too much.
The water we drink that is filtered through the earth still contains these chemicals and some of them are impossible to remove. Then we consume food and water that we believe to be safe but contains these chemicals, poisoning our bodies.
It Affects Everyone
When it comes to water, it gets serious. Every living thing on earth depends on water to survive. And although consuming water with these chemicals still present may not be immediately dangerous, it doesn’t mean that we have nothing to worry about. Besides e-waste contamination, water is polluted by many other means. These other means of water pollution are even greater than that caused by e-waste.
However, there’s nothing helpful about adding more pollution on top of the pollution we already see from agriculture, sewage, and oil. Some of these top-tier polluters are out of our control, but recycling e-waste is not. Look into how you can recycle your old electronics in your neighborhood.
Many of the best ways to recycle your old devices are through independently owned companies. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s put on the backs of the citizens to figure out how to safely dispose of electronics. But the more we come together to help stop this pollution, the better off future generations will be.