The prevalence and pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives are only increasing. And at the same time, the average lifespan of electronic devices is decreasing. By upgrading the design or software and ending support for earlier versions, businesses purposefully plan the obsolescence of their products.
As a result, e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. In 2019, people generated 53.6 Mt (metric tons) of e-waste or around 16 pounds per person. We may expect e-waste production to peak at 110 Mt in 2050 if current trends continue, with a peak of 74.7 Mt in 2030 if nothing is done to curb the problem.
So, can e-waste be reused to mitigate this problem? In this article, we will explore e-waste recycling and how it can help.
What Is E-waste?
E-waste is any electrical or electronic device that has reached the end of its life and has been discarded. This can include everything from your old mobile phone to your broken coffee maker. While electronic devices are generally safe to use, they can become harmful to the environment and human health if not disposed of properly.
E-waste is a growing problem because it contains a range of materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, that can be recycled and reused. However, e-waste also contains harmful chemicals, such as lead and mercury, that can contaminate the environment if not handled properly.
E-waste makes up only 2% of the world’s trash but contains 70% of all heavy metals like lead and mercury. And it’s not just the materials in e-waste that are valuable; the devices often have confidential personal data that can be exploited if not properly destroyed.
Common Examples of E-waste
As mentioned, e-waste can include anything electronic or electrical that has reached the end of its life. Some common examples of e-waste include:
- Mobile phones
- Computers and laptops
- Washing machines
- Vacuum cleaners
While these are some of the most common examples of e-waste, the list is not exhaustive. Anything with a plug or battery that is no longer working can be considered e-waste.
How to Recycle E-waste
Recycling e-waste involves recovering materials from end-of-life electronics and electrical devices. The goal of recycling e-waste is to reduce the environmental impact of e-waste by safely extracting valuable materials that can be reused and diverting e-waste from landfills.
The e-waste recycling process typically starts with collecting e-waste from businesses and households. The e-waste is then transported to a recycling facility, where it is sorted and dismantled.
At the recycling facility, the e-waste is first shredded into small pieces. The shredded e-waste is then sorted into different types of materials, such as metals, plastics, and glass. The most valuable materials, such as copper and gold, are extracted and sold, while the rest is typically recycled or incinerated.
The e-waste recycling process is not perfect, and some harmful toxins can still end up in the environment. However, this type of recycling is a much better option than simply throwing e-waste away in the trash.
Get Rid of Your E-waste
If you want to get rid of your e-waste but don’t know how, OC Recycle is here to help. We are a recycling center in Orange County that specializes in e-waste recycling. Our recycling program goes beyond regular e-waste recycling, which usually includes items like computer monitors and televisions.
We also accept old car batteries, transformers, motors, and more. We also offer data destruction services to ensure that your confidential data is destroyed properly. Contact us today to learn more about our e-waste recycling services or schedule a pick-up.