E-Waste, or electronic waste, eventually shows up everywhere in our homes and offices. The challenge is what to do with it all.
At the rate that most of us replace and upgrade electronics to new models, our old gadgets usually end up no longer being used and simply collecting dust in some closet or un-used office.
Think about your home or office right now: how many printers, computer monitors and old televisions do you have that are out of commission? If you are like most families or businesses, it’s probably time to get rid of those e-waste items. And e-waste disposal is a problem.
So what happens to all of that e-waste?
There are essentially three options: Keep it, toss it or recycle it. If you keep it, you will start accumulating piles of out dated printers, fax machines and computers that end up just taking up valuable space in your home or office. Unfortunately, most people simply "toss it" and rarely, if ever, consider the recycling option.
In fact, up to 50 million tons of e-waste is tossed out every year and only around 18% of that pile is recycled.
Junk Hauling and E-Waste Disposal Problems
There are a few issues to consider with e-waste disposal. Because of the number of laws and regulations, especially in states such as California, 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 - particularly any old CRT devices you still have around - the process takes time, effort and money.
Even though e-waste only makes up of 2% of the municipal waste stream in America, those items are among the most toxic. These things are perfectly safe for your home but when they are broken apart and left to rot and rust all kinds of bad things can seep out. Among the major offenders are lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and barium.
Getting Rid of E-Waste: How Hard Is It?
According to the website Earth911.com, e-waste disposal and recycling is becoming increasingly problematic.
What is considered e-waste? More than just outdated cell phones, e-waste is any electronic waste that is no longer wanted or is now obsolete, whether it works or not. Televisions, old VCRs, DVD players, stereos, copiers, fax machines, tablets, computers, and plenty more electronic devices all become e-waste as soon as they are not wanted anymore.
E-waste isn’t always easy and convenient to recycle. Local governments often have e-waste collection days a few times a year, but that means that homeowners have to store the unwanted items in the meantime. Several electronic stores will accept electronics for recycling, but Best Buy – one of the largest e-waste recyclers – just began charging for collection of some electronics, including TV and computer monitors.
Jason Linnell, co-founder and executive director of the National Center for Electronics Recycling, attributes the trend in fees to a large drop in demand for metals and glass, as well as other factors.
“There were a number of new companies that formed when commodities such as gold got hot, but since they’ve dropped back down, those firms have failed,” Linnell says. “But also, CRT returns have increased as the new, lighter screens and computer monitors get cheaper. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon, as we estimate there’s about six billion pounds of CRTs still left in people’s homes.”
E-Waste Disposal or Recycling?
Facing increased regulations and added fees for recycling e-waste, it may seems easier to simply through out your old electronics. But the e- waste problem is that it contains toxic materials that are likely to be detrimental to human health. The following facts about e-waste reveal not only the scope of the problem, but the resources that are being tossed in landfills each year:
- The United States produces more e-waste annually than any other country. The amount of electronics that Americans throw away every year? 9.4 million tons.
- California alone produced 210,790,222 lbs of e-waste in 2012 - over 5 pounds for every California resident.
- Only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled, according to the EPA.
- For every one million cell phones that are recycled, the EPA states that 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered. For those not familiar with palladium, palladium is a precious metal using for making electrical contacts, as well as surgical instruments and parts for watches.
- Recycling circuit boards can be more valuable than mining for ore! One ton of circuit boards is estimated to contain 40-800 times more gold than one metric ton of ore. There is 30-40 times more copper in a ton of circuit boards that can be mined from one metric ton of ore.
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year, according to the EPA.
- Based on e-waste disposal rates, Americans throw out phones containing over $60 million in gold and/or silver every year.
By placing e-waste into the right recycling program, you're also providing a solid boost to the economy. A study published by the International Data Corporation found that e-waste recycling provided work for 30,000 full-time employees and contributed around $5.2 billion to the U.S. economy since 2002.
Those numbers will only grow higher as more new gadgets come onto the market. As it stands, we're replacing our cell phones every 22 months on average, and our computers every two years. Add it all up and the e-waste we throw out each year could fill up to 60 landfills.
So what does the e-waste recycling situation look like?
Professional Junk Removal is a Great Option for E-Waste
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