The electronic and technological explosion in the past 50 years have brought comfort and speed in the ways we do business, communication, and basically all of our daily activities. The emergence of computers, smart appliances, and cellphones has made life very easy for us.
Electronics have become a lucrative business that new models, upgrades, and inventions are released in less than a year. Consumers, on the other hand, don’t mind buying new cellphones, gadgets, and appliances even if their current ones are still fine and functioning.
Old appliances, smartphones, and laptops that were replaced with new ones become junk to their owners. They end up in trash bins and curbsides; then eventually in landfills.
The sad truth is: alongside the prosperity and comfort that technology brings comes an undeniably searing global problem: e-waste.
What is e-waste
E-waste or electronic waste is defined as the various forms of electronic and electrical materials that have ceased their functions and lost their value. Examples of e-waste include refrigerators, fax machines, computers, cellphones, and all other everyday electronic products.
The average percentage of e-waste that we produce is about 5% of the total solid waste we produce annually. This percentage increases in rich countries while developing countries are not far behind.
For this very reason, we encourage you to be aware and learn about the concept of recycling e-waste.
Why recycling e-waste is important
E-waste should be properly disposed of. These items contain parts and chemicals that may harm and have long-term effects on the environment. These items shouldn’t be thrown into landfills or handled without care.
Moreover, e-waste rubbish is somewhat unique compared to the ordinary waste that we know. Although e-waste is pretty much useless as a whole, there are some precious recoverable materials that we can still use. Recycling would be your best option.
The following are reasons why we should practise e-waste recycling:
Reduce global warming
Recycling e-waste has a tremendous impact on a global scale. Uncollected and unrecycled e-waste is usually incinerated which could lead to the production of greenhouse gases. These gases accumulate in our atmosphere and lead to an increase in global temperature.
Through e-waste recycling, we can decrease the volume of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere. We can help as well in the advocacy to reduce if not eliminate incineration as one of the waste management methods we currently use.
Reduce landfills and Improve environmental conservation
Landfills are considered to be the graveyard of unrecycled e-waste. These areas themselves are said to be environmentally destructive. Biodegradable materials contain methane and carbon dioxide—chemicals that can disrupt the normal ecology in an area and produce the greenhouse effect.
The electronic parts and materials found in e-waste may contain harmful chemicals that can seep through the soil and lead to a number of destructive effects on the environment. By recycling, we can decrease the number of areas that are converted into landfills. That’s one step towards environmental conservation.
Job generation and new business opportunities
E-waste recycling generates jobs, believe it or not. As the recycling industry grows, more people will be wanting to work or create new businesses to cater to the rising demand. A secondary market will also emerge where recycled e-waste materials are the primary commodity.
Save the use of raw materials
Materials from those electronic devices and appliances can be reused and repurposed; decreasing the demand for raw materials. Remember that raw materials are mined and refined in factories and plants. The processes involved in producing such raw materials are among the culprits of air and water pollution.
Types of e-waste you can recycle
Some parts/components of the e-waste we produce are completely harmless. We encourage reducing as much e-waste as much as possible. You can drop off your electronic junk at recycling centres near you. On the other hand, you can tap a rubbish removal partner who can handle your e-waste and dispose of them properly.
Nevertheless, you should still be cautious and able to identify which items are safe to recycle.
It may be so tempting to toss those old cellphones and junk computer parts in the trash bin. What you don’t know is that there are long-term consequences for imprudently throwing electronic junk.
You should know that even if your e-waste has reached the recycling depot, its journey doesn’t end there. The electronics’ parts and components are carefully dismantled and segregated. Those that can be reused, recycled, and discarded are classified accordingly.
Metals like zinc, gold, silver, aluminium, and copper can be recycled into new electronic products. Other materials like plastic are downgraded and used for something else.
Types of e-waste you can’t recycle
Keep in mind though that there are certain items that can’t be recycled. If the e-waste contains mercury, sulphur, cadmium, lead, and beryllium oxide— they go straight into incinerators. The aforementioned substances are harmful to humans and are classified to be hazardous waste.
You would be asking, “what type of e-waste contain harmful chemicals?”
Here are some of the common items that can’t be recycled and should be disposed of properly:
- Cathode ray tubes
- LCD monitors (TV and PC)
- Printed circuit boards
- Semiconductors and chip resistors
If you own the items mentioned above, please do not attempt to disassemble them without proper safety equipment. A better idea is to call professionals who know how to safely handle them.
The National Television & Computer Recycling Scheme
Australia has faced the surging e-waste problem by establishing the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS). The aim of this scheme is to provide small businesses and homes free access to collection and recycling services for televisions, computers, printers, and their corresponding parts and peripherals.
Objectives of the NTCRS
The following are the objectives of the scheme:
- Reduce waste that goes to landfill, especially the toxic materials found in electronic waste (e-waste).
- Promote and Increase the recovery of reusable materials from e-waste in a safe, scientific and environmentally sound manner.
- Provide convenient access to recycling services for households and small businesses throughout Australia.
All states, territories, and local government in Australia are covered by the NTCRS.
Where can I recycle TVs and computers?
There are different organisations in Australia that offer locations to serve as drop-off centres and have e-waste recycling services for the public. The services are free for household and small businesses. Large businesses, on the other hand, need to pay a certain fee in order to avail of these services.
You can check through the following sites where to find the nearest dropoff points and recycling services near your area:
E-waste has become a global problem that we need to seriously attend to. As long as we continue to progress and improve our technology, there will always be e-waste in our midst.
What we need to do is have a robust recycling scheme that can provide us with a structure for proper e-waste management. Information campaigns on the benefits and reasons why we have to recycle our e-waste should also be strengthened.
You have a part to play in this conservation effort. In your own little way, by diligently dropping off your own e-waste to recycling centres or have a rubbish removal partner dispose of your e-waste for you, that would be tremendous.
We can all reap the benefits and promises that recycling brings. If everyone will be practising e-waste recycling and disseminating information about this concept, the effects and rewards can be exponential.