[Editors note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]
If you've owned and run your business for any length of time, you probably have e-waste, somewhere in your offices.
At the rate that most businesses replace and upgrade their electronic equipment to new models, the old devices that end up collecting dust in some closet or back office are multiplying. All of these old electronic devices and equipment make up what we call e-waste, or electronic waste, and they require special consideration when being disposed of.
Think about your business right now: how many printers, computer monitors and old fax machines and copiers have been out of commission for over a year now? If you counted, say, a dozen or more, it’s a good time to get rid of those e-waste items.
Like old furniture and other items, this type of waste falls under the heading of "junk removal."
The Problem With E-Waste Disposal
There are a number of issues with e-waste disposal. It's not legal in most places to place e-waste in the trash. Even if you are a business owner, electronic waste items can't be gotten rid of in your commercial waste dumpster.
Because of the number of laws and regulations, in states such as California and others, many items such as monitors, TVs, and even cell phones cannot be simply tossed in the trash. What's more, when you want to properly dispose of a computer monitor - especially any old CRT devices you still have around - the process takes time, effort and money.
To date, 25 states and Washington, D.C., have electronics recycling laws, most of which are producer responsibility statutes. Here is a map illustrating these:
While many of these state programs face challenges with implementation, much progress is being made on the e-waste recycling front.
According to The Balance Small Business website,
Electronic waste, commonly referred as e-waste, is one of the fastest growing segments in the municipal solid waste stream. Although nearly 100 percent of e-waste is recyclable, the current recycling rate of e-waste is not promising. The items that can be recovered from e-waste include constituents such as plastics, metals, and glass.
The article goes on to list a number of relevant statistics regarding e-waste and e-waste recycling efforts. For example, the fact that the U.S. generated 11.7 million tons of e-waste in 2014. Looking at previous years, according to the EPA, only about 1 million tons of over 3.4 million tons of e-waste generated in 2012 was recycled, which resulted in a recycling rate of 29 percent. The e-waste recycling rate in 2011 was 24.9 percent, and only 19.6 percent in 2010.
The good news is that there are plenty of recycling options and they are expanding every year.
E-Waste, Disposal, and Recycling
Although not every state has e-waste recycling programs nor is it illegal to dump e-waste in every state, the biggest problem with e-waste is that it contains toxic materials that are determined to be hazardous to the environment and to human health.
According to the World Health Organization, or WHO,
E-waste-connected health risks may result from direct contact with harmful materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), from inhalation of toxic fumes, as well as from accumulation of chemicals in soil, water and food.
It can be unsettling to consider the vast amounts of e-waste that still ends up in landfill pits across the country every day, every year, that are then subject to deterioration and the release of toxic elements into the atmosphere and the surrounding soil, and - possibly - the ground water.
A post at SecureWaste.com highlights this threat,
One of the unintended consequences that have arisen from the technology boom of the past several decades has been the growing problem of e-waste. Electronic scrap from CPUs, computer monitors, printers, etc. are not only an eyesore in many landfills, but they also pose a hazard to the environment. The main reason for the threat they pose is because many electronic components contain hazardous materials. These substances need special handling when being disposed of or recycled.
The following facts about e-waste collection and recycling in the U.S. reveal not only the scope of the problem, but the resources that are being tossed in landfills each year:
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Why Your Choice for E-Waste Removal Service Matters
While there are many options for your business e-waste removal, choosing a trustworthy and reputable company like Junk King matters.
According an article at earth911.com,
In 2014, 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste was shipped to developing countries, creating not only a dumping problem in those countries, but also utilizing resources to transport the waste to countries around the world.
Guiyu, China is a major dumping ground for e-waste from the United States. After the e-waste is transported over to China, the electronics are dumped in the town where it litters the streets and poisons the residents. Hydrochloric acid is thrown on the items to reveal the steel and copper to be reused. High levels of lead have been reported among residents.
Not all e-waste recyclers are the same. There are safer ways to recycle e-waste, and then there are companies that simply export the waste to developing countries. Rather than monitoring the recycling of the e-waste for health and human safety standards in these developing countries, many businesses simply have residents disassemble waste and use scrap metal, exposing the workers to toxic materials.
This is another good reason to consider Junk King for all of your junk and e-waste removal and disposal needs.
Professional E-Waste Removal for Your Business
Junk King provides an efficient, safe and eco-friendly e-waste removal service so you don’t need to worry about the pick up or disposal of those old items. Not only that, but we make sure that your old electronics end up in the right place: whether it be a charity if the electronics are still functioning, or a recycling facility to ensure your e-waste is disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
We remove almost all types of e-waste, including:
- Copy Machines