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Anna Tompkins

Electronic Recycling: Problems & Solutions

Where does your old iPhone with the cracked screen go when you “throw it out”? We usually do not tend to think of where these electronic devices end up. As technology becomes an integral part of everyday life and affordable for everyone, disposal of unwanted electrics is becoming a global environmental problem. E-waste is ending up in landfills and shipped overseas and it is becoming a problematic. The solution is recycling E-waste and reusing the materials to create new devices.

As you probably know, e-waste stands for electronic waste. Although the term is loosely described for all electronic appliances (from microwaves to wireless modems), we will focus on the following electronic items: televisions, laptop and PC computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, mice, keyboards, tablets and in particular cell phones. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in 2009 2.37 million tons of e-waste was generated in the United States. Out of that only 17.7% was recycled. Globally, 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are discarded every year and the number is growing rapidly. A large amount of e-waste is shipped overseas to countries such as China.

E-waste contains some hazardous materials. These toxic metals include: lead, cadmium and beryllium to name a few. The materials must be handled with caution. Properly recycling your electronics prevents contaminants from reaching landfills where heavy metals can produce air and water pollution. The production of greenhouse gas emissions is also prevented when recycling e-waste by cause of eliminating more mining for metals and manufacturing of new materials.

Did you know that many precious metals such as gold, silver and copper are found in electronics, circuit boards and networking equipment? Old cell phones have particularly several of these precious metals. Once recycled these metals are used by different industries such as jewelry, plating, and electronics and automotive. Nonmetals such as plastic and glass are also reused. The rechargeable battery can be also recycled into new rechargeable batteries.

Next time you are about to throw out your old cell phone into the trash think about where it might end up and instead bring it to United Iron & Metal.  Recycling your unwanted electronic devices will ensure that the materials inside it will be reused and not add to the global problem of pollution and global warming. Understanding that e-waste can be recycled and reused creates conscious consumers and benefits everyone for years to come.

When you are bringing your unwanted electronic items to United Iron you can be confident that we will handle them properly. For more information on e-recycling check out this video