22 November 2017
With almost 100% of all electronic waste being recyclable, the sad fact is that we’re falling way short when it comes to tackling the growing e-waste mountain worldwide. The United Nations University estimates that an eye-watering 45 million tons of computers, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic goods are thrown away every single year. And this e-waste is ending up in landfill, when a large amount of it could and should be recycled.
And ‘planned obsolescence’ just adds to the problem. Ever wondered why your mobile phone just happens to die on you just as your contract is about to run out? And why your TV becomes obsolete as soon as the bigger, thinner model appears? The cost of trying to keep up to date with the latest tech not only takes its toll on our pockets – there’s a pretty big environmental cost too.
· In 2014, around 41.8 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide. By 2018, the amount of e-waste produced globally is expected to be 49.8 million tons.
· Currently, only 15-20 percent of all e-waste is recycled.
· Studies show that producing a computer and monitor takes at least 1.5 tons of water, 48lbs of chemicals and 530 lbs of fossil fuels.
· Mobile phones contain high amounts of precious materials such as silver and gold. Americans throw away $60 million worth of these high value resources every year.
· Global e-waste is expected to grow by 8 percent per year.
· Reusing or recycling computers can generate 296 more jobs per year for every 10,000 tons of computer waste processed, when compared to disposal in landfills.
· According to EPA, when released into the environment e-waste could cause serious damage to the human body, from the blood and kidneys to the central and peripheral nervous systems.
· Guiyu, a town in China is just one of the many dumping grounds for e-waste from the United States, where electronic waste litters the streets and poisons the residents. Hydrochloric acid is poured onto the items to reveal the valuable steel and copper that can be reused. High levels of lead have been found among residents of this stricken town.
“Recycling is more than just a response to the environmental crisis and has assumed a symbolic role in beginning to change the nature of western societies and the culture of consumerism. Indeed many environmentalists assume that there will be an inevitable shift from our ‘throwaway’ society to a post-industrial ‘recycling’ society of the future.” Matthew Gandy, Recycling and the Politics of Urban Waste.
Responsible computer recycling is vital, if you want to play your part in reducing potentially health and environmentally-harming e-waste, as well as keeping your data secure. So if your company is one that is committed to the ethical recycling of its obsolete computers and technology products, make sure secure and environmentally friendly computer recycling that adheres to proper recycling regulations is part of your consideration. It’s also important to be aware that companies are now legally obliged to safely dispose of potentially sensitive information in accordance with current security laws and the Data Protection Act of 1998. Be sure only to use a computer recycling company that operates in accordance with, and preferably exceeds all government guidelines such as the WEEE Directive and the Data Protection Act.