[Editors note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]
E-Waste, also known as electronic waste, can be found just about everywhere in our homes, at our jobs, in our schools, and even in our storage units and our cars.
E-waste is not a new problem. CRT television sets have been around since late 1930s and have been ending up in landfills ever since.
The first personal computers became commercially available in the late 1970s and within a few years they were already becoming "dated" and being replaced with the newer, faster models.
Mobile phones quickly replaced pagers (remember those?) by the late 1990s and they, too, needed to be replaced every few years.
And this does not take into account video gaming consoles, Walkman devices, mp3 players, digital cameras, PDAs, Blackberrys, and a wide assortment of other electronic devices and gadgets that have piled up in our closets, sock drawers, garages, and storage units.
According to a recent report by the Consumer Electronics Association, the average American household uses about 28 electronic products such as personal computers, mobile phones, televisions and electronic readers (e-readers).
According an article in Forbes,
2014 saw a record amount of electronic waste discarded across the globe, according to a report compiled by the United Nations University. 41.8 million tons of refrigerators, televisions, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and other electrical appliances were thrown away last year, up from 39.8 million in 2013. Last year's mountain of e-waste is equivalent to 1.15 million heavy trucks forming a line 14,300 miles long, according to the report.
The EPA states that Americans generated 3.09 million tons of obsolete electronic products in 2015, which was about one percent of the municipal solid waste stream. The bottom line is that e-waste, while still less than two percent of the total waste generated, it is among the most toxic and holds the most recoverable value in terms of raw materials.
Getting Rid of E-Waste: How Hard Is It?
Ultimately, our gadgets die. Our phones get old and their batteries stop holding a charge. Besides that, they quickly become outdated. Our laptops get junked up, slow down, and within a few years they're also outdated. And the list goes on.
As a nation we find ourselves with over three million tons of old, broken and unwanted electronics every year. And that's when it becomes e-waste. A pile that weighs almost as much as ten Empire State Buildings. A mountain of electronics that will mostly end up in landfills since we still only manage to recycle just under 20 percent of it.
The fact is that e-waste recycling, or eCycling, is not difficult, costly or complicated.
But the progress seems to be slow even among developed nations such as the United States. An article from electronicstakeback.com noted the following:
And while recycling is increasing, according to the EPA, currently about 60% of discarded electronics end up in the trash. While many states are passing laws to prevent e-waste from going into their landfills and incinerators, it’s still legal to trash electronics in many states. This is problematic because the hazardous chemicals in them them could leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams. Burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin. Out of 3.14 tons of e-waste generated in the U.S. in 2013, 1.87 million tons went into landfills and incinerators (60%) and only 1.27 million tons (40%) was recovered for recycling.
E-Waste, Disposal, and Recycling
The good news is that recycling your e-waste is not a task you have to take on yourself. For many electronic items, finding a place to recycle is quite easy. Cell phones are a great example of that.
Most major phone carriers will take your old phone, if not for a credit, at least for disposal. You can also go to retailers such as Best Buy and Staples who will gladly recycle your old phones for you. In addition, there are a number of non-profits and charitable organizations that have programs for accepting donations of used mobile phones.
Although you might be able to make a little bit of money selling your old phone, this is more likely with your other digital devices such as tablets, laptops and e-readers. Larger electronics might be saleable, as well, but don't expect to make any substantial amounts of money on most items.
Of course, the one thing you do NOT want to do is simply throw your old electronics into the trash. Not only is likely to be illegal, it is potentially hazardous to the environment. Besides, you'll be losing out on the prospect of contributing to the reclamation of heavy metals and other valuable raw materials.
There are times when you find that you have either an abundance of e-waste that you simply don't want to manage by yourself, or you have a number of large electronic items that make it difficult for you to transport or haul out on your own. The good news is that there are trusted and professional e-waste junk removal services in your area to take of that for you.
A Professional E-Waste Removal Team is a Great Option
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