Introduction to E-waste & How to recycle it

With more and more newer and relatively cheaper devices, we as a society, have reaped innumerable benefits. Such an explosive boom in the electronics sector, however, has led to a completely new problem today. It is that of the rapidly escalating problem of end-of-life (EOL) electronics or e-waste.

In the traditional recycling operations or the landfills, the main hazard is that toxic materials can be released from old and discarded electronic devices and be let out to the environment, thus hampering its sanity.

With passing time and usage of more and more devices, e-waste is growing, and with that surge comes the indispensable requirement for sustainable and effective recycling processes for electronic devices. Considering the January 2019 report from the esteemed World Economic Forum, we can conclude that e-waste is the fastest waste stream in the whole of the world. This is backed by the fact that an estimated 48.5 million tonnes of e-waste was produced in the year 2018.

Today, people are watching out for more information and help on TV and computer recycling along with other programs that will assist them in responsibly getting rid of the unwanted electronics, devices and equipment with minimum risk of any data or Identical Theft.

Policymakers have also shifted focus onto the safe recycling of electronics, along with industry leaders as well as consumers alike. This is a very positive and encouraging trend because many users are still not aware of safe disposal methods for old computers, electronic devices or their smartphones.  If one report is to be believed, nearly 75 percent of old electronics is still kept by consumers in their households due to the unavailability of convenient recycling methods or a lack of awareness of the same.

Coming to this blog, here we will look at some of the basic questions going on in your minds, including what exactly is e-waste, why is it important, what are the laws regarding that and how you can recycle that waste.

By the end of this blog, you will have had a fair idea of e-waste and its importance.

What Is E-Waste?

Whenever we talk of the word, “recycling”, it is commonly conceived as those concerning soda cans or water bottles, newspapers or cardboards, in short common household things. People tend to oversee other items, though commonly used, such as eyeglasses, pharmaceutical drugs, toothbrushes etc. This list could be unending.

What’s a more concerning issue in this entire recycling process is that we need to avoid an ecological disaster in our landfills. This could easily happen if we end up dumping each of our wastes in the landfills. Therefore, it is mandatory for us to realize the contribution of recycling to make this world a better place and help us manufacture brand new products from the older ones or from their certain parts.

This is a more general list that we considered. Coming to a more specific list now, let us consider the subject of this blog : electronics. They are one of the important things that we should be certain to recycle because of the environmental risks that their thoughtless disposal could impose on the earth. We know that our used electronics have mercury, lead and other toxins. If proper care is not taken in their disposal, they could contaminate the water and soil, endangering both human kind and wildlife. By recycling, not only are you keeping deadly toxins-containing devices out of landfills but also ensure that their valuable parts can be used again to make new and important products. 

Another important thing to consider here is what exactly is in the category of recyclable electronics. More awareness on this topic will better help manage this issue of e-waste recycling.

So what is e-waste exactly?

Now, coming to the main point, e-waste is the entire category of discarded electronics that could harm our land and water and air if improperly disposed of. It includes any electronics item that has been broken, has become obsolete or cannot be used anymore. These include items like dated computer equipment, TVs, stereos, and mobile and smartphones apart from Fitbits, Kindles, Nooks, and Amazon Fire Tablets; Virtual Reality (VR) gear; Virtual Assistants; Electric scooters; and more – some of the latest additions. Such items can mostly be recycled, yet a significant amount still finds its way to the landfill. This is a major challenge that is being faced by the world today. With technology improving more and more by the day, it is quite predictable that the amount of e-waste will only go up from here.

Why Is the recycling of Electronics Important?

It is imperative to give importance to e-waste recycling because of the following reasons.

1. It is interesting to note that electronic wastes contain deposits of precious metals that have been found out to be 40 and 50 times richer than those ores that we mine from the earth, according to the UN Reports and research.

2. It is important for Solid Waste Management. This is because of the fact that growth in the electronics industry, combined with a short product life cycle has caused a spike in the total generation of solid waste.

3. E-waste recycling plays an important role in Toxic Materials management. We have already seen that most of the electronic devices contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium. Therefore, proper processing of these devices is important to make sure that these materials are not let out into the environment. They may also be home to many other heavy metals and potentially toxic chemical flame retardants.

4. E-waste management is also very important for the International Movement of Hazardous Waste. The uncontrolled and unguided movement of e-waste across countries where there is availability of cheap labor and primitive approaches to recycling has posed a serious problem. It has caused an increase in health risks to nationals exposed to the release of toxins.

How Can You Recycle Your Old Electronics Devices?

Based on where you are a resident, you have access to different recycling opportunities. The best choice, however, and the most hassle-free one is to  donate the necessary computer and electronic equipment to be recycled or refurbished. Some of the other important and convenient recycled options include authorized electronics recycler locations, electronics recycling events, or retailer take back programs. There are also time-to-time offers of exchange and other attractive deals by companies to get rid of your existing equipment and buy new and upgraded ones.

Can you Throw E-waste in the Trash?

Well, there is no one answer to this question. Whether or not you are allowed to throw electronic waste into the trash, totally depends on the type of equipment and the location that you are in. You may refer to the specific state legislation, You may also keep in mind that some communities or cities will have policies banning e-waste even if there is no such ban at the state level. You need to check these thoroughly if you want to avoid any legal proceedings against you. However, we encourage everyone to please recycle by contacting the ISO Certified & R2 Certified Recycler like Prakruthi Recycling Pvt Ltd to ensure the safe & secure disposal of E-waste.

Can I hand over my electronic waste to the scrap dealer?

Well, in a simple and short way, the answer is no. If you give your electronic waste to an unauthorised and uneducated collector of waste, you are indirectly contributing to the unregulated market chain in the country which collectively amounts to handling more than 95 percent of the wastes generated annually. These dealers will also try to extract the important metals from the discarded devices in order to sell them and make some benefits of it. However, the main issue here is that they have fewer skills and do not know the necessary standards for safety and security. Also, such kind of dealers will engage in burning certain stuff in open air. This includes burning wires to take out copper. This contributes a big deal of pollutants to the air. Some others use cyanide based acids to extract precious metals. This is risky not only for the environment but also for themselves!

“Welcome to Sodom” is a 2018 documentary that has beautifully covered the dystopian and shocking concept of the Agbogbloshie dump yard in Ghana. In this particular place, life revolves around extremely harmful and toxic waste. According to the documentary “Every year about 2,50,000 tons of sorted out computers, smartphones, air conditions tanks and other devices from a far away electrified and digitalised world end up here, shipped to Ghana illegally.”

If more reports are to be believed, these electronic waste workers do suffer from a lot of physical side-effects too. This includes headaches, weakness, shortness of breath, permanent difficulty of breathing, chest pain and even sometimes DNA damage. According to the same documentary report, “a significant risk of harm, especially to children who are still growing and developing. Individual chemicals in e-waste such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs are known to have serious impacts on nearly every organ system.”

This was all about Ghana. Well that is not the only place in the world to be suffering from this debacle. Let us take the example of India itself. In India also we are following informal and unsafe recycling of electronic waste practices which causes serious health disorders to the environment & Human life.

Why e-waste recycling is Important in IT companies?

IT companies have seen a major growth in the last couple of decades. Today, there is more and more upgrading of devices and softwares and there are multitudes of products in a single category. IT companies are major users of electronic devices, thanks to their huge projects, infrastructure and development. So, the amount of e-waste that they produce annually is absolutely mind-boggling!

So, e-waste recycling is important in such companies in order to:

Conserve natural resources

Such electronic devices and equipment are a fertile and very potent source of valuable raw materials. Just because these devices are no longer being used or obsolete, nowhere means that we cannot use their materials again! Gold, alluminium, copper, and other raw materials can be taken out from these unused and old electronics and reused to make new ones. There is a huge  possibility of increasing e-waste recycling as currently, we are only able to recover about 10 to 15 percent of the gold in e-waste internationally.

With the help of the ability to extract and recycle the materials from e-waste can help us to limit the need for mining them from the Earth. This leads to better and more efficient conservation of natural resources worldwide. According to the United Nations,  precious metal deposits in electronic waste are between 40 to 50 times richer than the ones that we mined from the earth. So, not only does recycling the precious metals from e-waste products conserve the Earth’s resources, it is also more efficient.

Reduction of toxic substances and greenhouse gases

Electronic devices that we use on a daily basis are houses to toxic materials like cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and more. They are also containing other heavy metals and possible toxic chemicals, like flame retardants. It is high time that we prevent these dangerous substances and materials from being released into the environment Therefore, e-waste needs to be recycled properly and not just be dumped anywhere that you like!

By recycling e-waste, we can successfully cut down on chemical emissions that happen while disposing of the devices and within the process of making new devices. The companies that are using recycled materials to make new products, are actually using less energy than they would if they used brand new materials. This in turn brings down the total emission of greenhouse gases to the environment.

Protection of our and everyone’s health

As we have clearly seen by now, e-waste contains substantial amounts of dangerous chemicals and substances that can not only harm the environment, but also pose a risk to those residents living in and around the area as well. The amount of waste need not be huge. Even a small trace of these toxins, if released to our water, soil or air can pose serious health threats to us. With recycling of these e-waste products, we will no longer need to dump them into landfills, garbage disposal locations, and incinerators.

It helps to bring down business costs

For those businesses who are opting for e-waste recycling, we would like to inform you that it is also profitable for you! Yes! You read that right! E-waste recycling is not only good for our environment and people, but it also is good for a business’ bottom line. Most of the states and territory governments have now attractive incentives for e-waste recycling by getting up the cost of dumping or directly banning it. You will also be happy to know that there are also some non-tangible dividends of recycling, which are in your favour totally! These dividends include lowering the future costs of non-renewable materials and boosting staff morale and retention. All this means more profit and business growth for you!

It supports non-renewable recycling

With an ever-growing demand for electronic devices and appliances, it has become clear that we need to be ready to mine and process a range of metals and other non-renewable resources. However, many of the materials that go into making devices like smartphones, appliances and other e-waste can also be re-used to make new products instead of just throwing them away!Some of these renewable resources include steel, aluminium, copper and gold. Besides these, let us not forget to mention the innumerable amounts of plastic components used that can be turned into new products. By recycling e-waste, you are conveniently putting these materials back to work after you’re done with your device. This is much better than dumping e-waste in landfill which can cause other serious problems.

It is super easy to recycle e-waste today

Recycling e-waste has never been easier compared to what it was a few years back! Today, there are multiple places and businesses where you can simply dispose of your used electronics devices, be it an old phone, TV or other household appliances. For household quantities of e-waste, you can find a drop-off point near you.

So, by now you have had a clear idea of what exactly e-waste includes and what are the benefits of opting for e-waste recycling options for yourself and for the environment. If you are a business that is looking to get e-waste recycling done at your workplace, then you are at the perfect place! We are an e-waste recycling organisation that has been helping many businesses get rid of their commercial scale e-waste by proper recycling and management techniques. We have the necessary skill and technology to help you dispose of your wastes in the best way possible.

You can get in touch with Prakruthi Recycling Pvt Ltd today to see what we can do for your e-waste disposal!

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