Responsible Electronics Recycling
With advances in electronics technology, the life-cycle of devices is becoming ever shorter. Most people get a new cell phone every couple of years and computers are replaced about every four or five years.
That invites the question of what becomes of the old products that are being replaced? There are a number of options: the devices can be gifted to other users who are perhaps less concerned with having the latest, greatest model, they can be donated to a charity, or they can be recycled. The worst thing that can happen is that they are dumped into the trash and end up in a landfill adding to the damage being done to the environment.
What is Electronics Recycling?
Electronics recycling is the process of disposing of electronic waste: old or obsolete electronic devices that are no longer needed by the user. They have reached the end of their useful life at least for the current user, although they may still be appreciated by others.
Some of the obvious types of electronic waste are computers and computer accessories, gaming systems, cell phones, tablets, and music players.
Many types of electronic equipment are valued for the materials that can be recovered from them including precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, lead, and nickel. However, recycling companies usually aim to repair and reuse many of the devices and components they receive, only breaking them down to recover metals as a last resort.
In fact, most electronic recycling companies do not harvest the metals themselves but ship the broken-down parts to downstream processors with the specialist equipment and facilities needed to separate the hazardous materials such as cadmium, mercury, and sulfur that are released as part of the recovery process.
Why Electronics Recycling is Important
There are three main benefits to electronics recycling:
- The hazardous materials that they contain, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and beryllium are collected and disposed of safely, preventing them from being put into landfills and polluting the environment.
- The materials that can be harvested from old equipment can often be repaired and sold for someone else to benefit from ownership.
- Raw materials can be supplied to manufacturers who reuse them in the production of new devices, saving the costs and pollution involved in mining and processing additional natural resources.
If you decide to have your e-waste handled by a recycler, it is important to check that the company you choose is processing electronic waste safely and in accordance with industry best practices. The easiest way to do this is to select an electronics recycling company that is certified to an appropriate industry standard. You can start looking by typing “electronics recycling near me” into a search engine but, of course, if you are in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia area, we at Potomac eCycle will be delighted to help you.
The highest certification is R2/RIOS. Potomac eCycle is certified at this level as an electronics recycler and can advise on responsible electronics recycling.