E-waste management is something that every office should take very seriously. Environmental sustainability can not only help your business save money but also help your company do its part for the environment.
With the wide dissemination of cheap electronics comes a large amount of waste. Unfortunately, many of these electronic waste products – referred to as e-waste – do not breakdown, which means they will usually end up in a landfill where they will sit forever. The good news is there are easy ways for your company to reduce the amount of e-waste that it generates. Here, we will focus on the reasons why your office needs e-waste management.
What Is E-Waste?
E-waste refers to obsolete electronic products that are no longer needed, either because they are outdated or because they no longer function as intended. Examples may include television sets, cellular phones, tablets, video game consoles, stereos, laptops, printers, fax machines, copiers, and office computers.
Furthermore, while most of the e-waste products mentioned above can be reused or recycled, the vast majority are not, and end up rotting in landfills, contributing to air, water, and ground pollution. In fact, only 20% of e-waste is recycled. This means that 80% is either thrown into landfills, burned or manually pulled apart by some of the poorest workers in the world.
Why You Should Recycle Your E-Waste
Many e-waste products actually contain trace amounts of gold, but less than 10% of it is ever recovered. Interestingly, many e-waste products contain precious metal deposits that are about 45 times richer the ores that are extracted from the earth itself. Going the extra mile to recycle as much e-waste as possible can serve as a lucrative business opportunity.
Solid e-waste management is also paramount, as the short product life cycle of electronics, coupled with the rapid global growth of electronics manufacturing, has led to an increased demand for proper e-waste management. This is because the amount of solid waste generated annually continues to grow exponentially. Added efforts must be made by offices to do their part in the proper management of solid waste.
Safety is yet another reason why your office needs to create a safe and ethical e-waste management program. Most electronic products contain hazardous materials that can make people very sick if they are exposed even to trace amounts. Examples of some of the biohazardous waste that is commonly found in many office electronics include mercury, chromium, lead, and cadmium.
Some contain other, even deadlier heavy metals, and can even serve as very noxious chemical flame retardants. Proper processing must be initiated to prevent such contaminants from entering the atmosphere..
Unfortunately, much of the e-waste movement is uncontrolled, meaning the waste is not managed by any governing body. As a result, much of the waste is shipped off to developing countries, where there are no proper safety or recycling protocols set in place to properly process all the waste.
Furthermore, most e-waste is improperly managed by poor and uneducated workers who risk being exposed to deadly toxins on a daily basis. This can be due to lack of knowledge and training as well as lacking the proper safety equipment needed to manage the waste safely.
How to Recycle Your E-Waste
The recycling opportunities that are at your disposal are numerous, so there’s really no excuse to not get into proper e-waste management at the office. An easy way to help recycle your old electronics to make room for new office appliances and equipment is to donate them.
The products should, ideally, still work, but it is possible to donate them to a charitable organization who can have the products refurbished so that they can be used for years to come. If you do decide to donate your electronics, please remember to wipe the drives clean so that any sensitive company data will not get into the wrong hands.
There are numerous electronic recycler locations authorized in your city, as well as take-back programs that are offered by many retailers, including, but not limited to, Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples.
There are also electronic recycling events that are held on a routine basis that your office can take advantage of. There are even special programs that are designed for offices that want to recycle their old cell phones and dead batteries, such as Call2Recycle. Select the option that is most convenient for your business.
Can I Throw Out E-Waste?
It really depends on the type of equipment that you wish to discard as well the location of your office. You may have to look into provincial or state legislation in order to determine what can be thrown out, but, again, your goal should be to recycle as much e-waste as possible instead of simply throwing it in the trash.
It should also be noted that there are some municipalities and cities that strictly forbid the dumping of e-waste, even if there is no such ban at the provincial or state level. It is best to perform the necessary due diligence before you take any actions.
To learn more about recycling your e-waste, call eCycle Solutions at 1-877-215-5255 or contact us here.