Technology advances so quickly – it seems like every time a new mobile phone arrives in the mail, another one is released. And over the past 20 years, we’ve all fallen into the tech-trap. We want the newest gadget! Today, there are over 15 billion mobile phones in the world. And considering there are only 7.753 billion people in the world (and 26% of those are under the age of 16 years), that’s a lot of excess.
When we’re done with our phone, we usually just throw it away. But by doing this, we’re contributing to one of the worst forms of waste the environment has seen – electronic waste, or e-waste. Currently, e-waste accounts for around 53.6 million metric tons of waste globally.
The problem is that this waste is detrimental to the environment if it is not properly disposed of and processed. Here’s what you need to know about reducing and properly disposing of your e-waste.
What Is E-waste?
Originally called Digital Rubbish, e-waste is the term given to discarded electronic or electrical products and equipment including smartphones, computers, televisions, laptops, microwaves, stereos, refrigerators, cameras, photocopiers, VCRs, and lamps. As well as fax machines, game consoles, vacuum cleaners, music players, hairdryers, washing machines, alarm clocks, lawnmowers, and electric toothbrushes. Basically anything with a circuit board or a power plug that’s been thrown out. That’s e-waste.
While the disposal of broken, faulty, or unwanted electronic products isn’t a new challenge, as it’s been a consideration for the last 50 years. But the problem has become much larger since then, thanks to the sheer number of electronics discarded today. In fact, there were over 50 million metric tonnes of electronic waste worldwide in 2019. That’s roughly the equivalent of 18,000 smartphones a minute.
With rapid technological advances, shorter life spans, and higher consumption rates, plenty of our e-waste still actually works fine. Just like when VCR players were replaced seemingly overnight by DVD players, which soon after were replaced again by Blu-Ray’s, much of our e-waste is only considered obsolete. And as the volume continues increasing exponentially year after year, improperly disposed e-waste is also becoming more hazardous.
What Happens To E-waste Once Thrown Out?
While modern electronic consumer products are generally pretty safe for us to be around, we rarely have access to the electronic circuitry which makes these devices function. Inside their plastic outer casing, most electronics have some form of toxic materials and chemicals such as cadmium, mercury, nickel, barium, chromium, arsenic, copper, beryllium, zinc, silver, gold, and lead.
The hazardous components found inside e-waste are generally safe when kept above ground, but not when they get buried. That’s because these toxic materials can very easily dissolve into microscopic traces which creates a very serious environmental threat to our soil, water, and air. Because the more e-waste that ends up in the same landfill, the more toxic trace chemicals pool together until they eventually permeate into the groundwater.
And it’s this kind of improper and immoral disposal that can end up causing adverse damages to our environment, our wildlife, and yes even to us humans. Unfortunately for us, landfill is currently where most e-waste is likely to end up. And whatever doesn’t get buried or recycled is ultimately exported to developing third world countries, where labourers disassemble this e-waste by hand in unregulated and unsafe conditions.
Can You Recycle E-waste?
Most e-waste contains various amounts of recyclable materials, such as plastic, glass, and precious non-renewable metals like nickel, platinum, silver, and gold. Recycling e-waste is a much better and cheaper solution that decreases the demand for digging underground surface mines and damaging our environment. So not only does recycling prevent e-waste from being buried in landfill, but it also helps recover these important non-renewable natural resources so they can be reused in the manufacturing of new electronics.
The other good thing about properly recycling your electrical products is they can also help you protect your privacy. Because using standard deletion methods isn’t enough to keep your personal information safe. When your e-waste is collected by a service for rubbish removal Sydney like Cheapest Load Of Rubbish, you have peace of mind knowing that we’ve taken it to a recycling facility to be dismantled and turned into its base elements. And your passwords and bank details can’t survive that!
How Can You Reduce E-waste?
There are a number of ways you can actively reduce your e-waste. For starters, you should always ensure your electronics are well-maintained to increase their lifespan. For products with a battery like a laptop, you should never overcharge your battery by unplugging it before it is 100% charged. Buy a screen protector and case for your smartphone in case you accidentally drop it. By looking after your electronics, not only are you increasing their total lifespan which helps keep them out of landfills, but you’re also saving money by not having to purchase new electronic devices all the time.
If you really need that latest gadget, sell your old one first. This gives your electronic device a second life which reduces electronic waste as well as carbon emissions. Because every reused electronic device literally displaces the requirement for manufacturing a new one, which reduces surface mining and saves natural resources. Another option is donating to someone in need. Not everyone can afford the latest in tech, so not only does donating your old electronics give it a second life but giving someone who wouldn’t usually be able to access it will also make you feel pretty good about yourself. It’s a win-win-win situation! Everyone is happy!
We all should be embracing a much more circular and sustainable use of electronic products, from the initial purchase to best use methods, all the way until it is reused, repaired, and ultimately recycled. And if you really want to reduce your e-waste, the most effective method is by not buying electronic products in the first place just because it’s the latest technology. So always think twice before making a decision to upgrade to a new electronic device if your existing model works fine.
How Can Cheapest Load of Rubbish Help With E-waste Removal?
Because e-waste often contains hazardous and toxic materials, it must be recycled or disposed of in a responsible and regulated manner. That’s where Cheapest Load Of Rubbish comes in. As the premier company for rubbish removal Sydney, we will ensure your unused electronics are recycled safely and correctly. We have been removing and recycling old electronic products since before it was called e-waste!
As with everything, we always encourage people to reduce, reuse, and repair wherever possible before recycling. Because we all need to work together to save our environment. So instead of letting your electronic gadgets become buried in a landfill or in the back of your garage, contact Cheapest Load of Rubbish for rubbish removal and e-waste recycling today.