According to a United Nations study, consumer e-waste totaled 44.7 million tons in 2016, and only 20 percent of that e-waste was disposed of properly. Whether you make soy candles, sell videos or repair cars, your business can do its part to recycle electronics responsibly as you care for the earth and its inhabitants now and into the future.
Why Recycle Electronics
When you’re ready to upgrade to more efficient electronics or downsize your collection, you certainly could toss outdated or unwanted electronic devices into the trash. However, these devices deserve a bit more attention, and you’ll make a positive contribution to society and your company when you recycle.
For starters, recycling electronics conserves natural resources. Electronics are often made from metal, glass and plastic, valuable resources and materials that require energy to manufacture.
Recycling also allows your company to contribute toward valuable resource recovery and conservation. For example, recycling one million cellphones recovers 75 pounds of gold, 35 thousand pounds of copper and 772 pounds of silver.
You’ll reduce pollution, too. Recycling reduces the need for electronics manufacturing electronics and landfill processing, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and air and water pollution.
Partner with energy conservation efforts. Since the process of recycling one million laptops conserves the electricity equivalent used by 3,500 homes annually, all the laptops you recycle conserve energy.
Finally, electronics recycling improves your office efficiency. Maximize your current space and increase employee productivity and satisfaction when you recycle old hardware and electronics you no longer use, want or need.
Which Electronics to Recycle
Take a look around your office, and you will find dozens of electronics your company can recycle. Here’s a summary.
High-grade electronics contain gold and other materials that can be reclaimed through a recycling program.
- Computers – desktops and laptops
- Hard drives
- Telephones – cellular, wireless and cordless
Low-grade electronics typically don’t contain valuable recoverable materials but do contribute to environmental pollution when you improperly dispose of them.
- Drives, such as computer disks and CD ROM
- Fax machines
- Keyboards and mice
- Office phones and Local Area Network Communication Devices
- Personal Digital Assistants
Video display devices include anything with a screen.
- Monitors – CRT, LCD and Plasma
- Televisions – CRT, LCD, Plasma, and Rear-Projection
Steps to Take Before you Recycle Electronics
Now that you know why and what to recycle, take two important steps before you recycle the devices.
- Delete all information.
In addition to deleting photos, presentations and files, cleanse the hard drives so no one can retrieve the information stored on the device.
- Remove the batteries.
They often require a separate recycling process.
Where to Recycle Electronics
A variety of electronic recycling options exist in your community.
- Contact your waste management service.
They often collect and recycle electronics for you.
- Find an e-Steward recycler.
A responsible e-Steward recycler follows high standards and will reuse and/or refurbish your electronics rather than ship them to a developing country or otherwise properly dispose of them.
- Return the electronics to the manufacturer.
Apple, Dell, HP, Samsung, and other manufacturers accept and recycle your unwanted electronics for free or a small fee. Sometimes, you can even receive store credit for participating in a takeback program.
- Visit a retailer.
Staples, Best Buy and other retailers often partner with e-Stewards and invite companies to recycle certain electronics.
- Donate your fully functional electronics to a charity or other organization.
The World Computer Exchange or National Cristina Foundation are two options. You can also ask your local homeless shelter, youth club or retirement center if they can use your electronics in their program.
Before you toss an unwanted electronic device into the trash, consider these important steps. With them, you manage your company wisely, protect the environment and give your devices new life.