Recycling your electronic waste is an important thing to do for the environment. This is especially true as so many electronic devices nowadays have planned obsolescence which means they are designed to be disposed of within a set period, usually a few years. There are multiple ways of recycling electronics and keeping them out of landfills where toxic materials can get into the water supply, not to mention the sheer waste. When it comes to electronics recycling if items are not discarded responsibly a lot of toxic materials can get into the environment. While the electronic items that end up in the United States’ landfills only account for 2 percent of the waste an alarming 70 percent of the heavy metals in landfills come from these devices.
In some states, such as California, mobile phones have been designated as hazardous waste. According to Wikipedia, the chemicals and heavy metals in these phones can escape the landfill and end up in the groundwater system. According to one advocacy group, the soldering in some smartphones is very problematic as are the cables which can contain phthalates. Proposition 65 in California states that any product containing phthalates must have a warning label as this material is considered to be toxic.
Thankfully, it’s becoming increasingly easy to recycle mobile phones. There are kiosks around the country at malls, grocery stores, and other retailers where the phones can be recycled. Even better is that if it’s a relatively recent model, released within two years or so, you can often receive some money from the machine for recycling your phone.
Getting rid of mobile phones responsibly is very important for the environment. According to the United States’ EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), in 2009 around 141,000,000 phones were discarded. Unfortunately, a mere 12 million of these ended up getting recycled and were instead thrown in the regular trash. More are getting recycled today, though, as it has become much easier due to the kiosks.
Larger electronic devices take a little more work to have recycled but not much more. There are drop-off places across the nation where people and businesses can take larger electronics. This can include appliances, televisions, stereo systems, computers, printers, and office equipment. There are a lot of heavy metals in these devices as well as other toxic materials. These materials end up either leaching into the groundwater system or being incinerated and entering the air.
Recycling these larger devices is essential to keeping their toxic materials out of the environment. It also helps to keep natural resources from being exhausted as the chemicals and metals in them can be repurposed for something else. The article states that it will take local governments encouraging people to recycle their electronic devices as well as community education. Whether you have a refrigerator or smartphone to dispose of there is a responsible option in your community for discarding it in all likelihood, especially in metro areas. Some places charge a small fee, some do the recycling for free, and sometimes you can even make money from recycling.