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What is E-Waste Recycling

What is E-Waste Recycling

Both households and businesses have many ways to improve their recycling of electronic waste (e-waste). This is because large e-waste items, like your old refrigerator or television, are usually disposed of once they’re no longer needed.

Small waste items, like old cell phone chargers and flat batteries, tend to pile up. I know I have a bottom kitchen drawer full of things I should probably get rid of. However, for some reason, I keep them because I feel like they might have some use in the future. 

I know that I’m not alone in keeping old cell phones. According to Trevor Long, a technology commentator for EFTM. “There are more than 22.3 million unused mobile phones just tucked away in desk drawers” in Australia alone. 

Worse, only 1% of people recycle old cell phones. 

If you’re like me, you might keep this kind of waste because you feel like it could have a future use. In the case of cell phones, a spare emergency phone feels essential in modern life. But do you need that old Blackberry you bought back in 2012? 

E-waste recycling is a solution. Not only can it declutter your household or workspace, but it has many other benefits. Recycling and waste are commonly known to be good for the environment, and e-waste is no exception.

E-waste commonly contains valuable and hazardous materials. They include lithium, mercury, and cadmium, in most mobile phone batteries. 

E-waste recycling can take many forms. The National Television and Recycling Scheme, funds many local Australian governments. They help them recycle e-waste free of charge.  

You can also ask your local town councilors if any schools or charity organizations are looking for old electronic devices. Instead of throwing your old laptop away, check that no child needs it. Even if it lacks the latest software, they might still appreciate it. 

The more tech-savvy people out there might enjoy disassembling old TVs and refrigerators for scraps. While this is a more labor-intensive task, it’s a great way to recycle old electronics. Plus, you can also make some money in the process!

E-waste recycling has a host of possibilities that are still worth mentioning. This blog seeks to explain the processes of how e-waste recycling systems currently work in Australia. It looks at e-waste recycling pros and cons and how households and businesses can benefit from the process. 

This blog also hopes to encourage people to get more involved in e-waste recycling. The amount of e-waste produced in 2021 equaled the total tonnage of the Great Wall of China

This is not so much a result of poor waste management as it indicates the size of the electronic industry. Newer and newer electronic devices are being manufactured every year, further propelling us into the future. 

E-waste recycling helps lessen the burden of climate change caused by this development. I hate to sound alarming, but if you want a bright future filled with new devices, you need to start recycling the ones you no longer need. 

Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Definition

Electronic waste (e-waste) is any electronic product discarded or disposed of. Common examples include old mobile phones, televisions, and refrigerators.

Note that the definition of e-waste is as large as the number of electronic devices produced. 

Many e-waste items include hazardous chemicals, like mercury and lead. Improper disposal can lead to these chemicals seeping into the surrounding environment. 

This can harm human health and well-being. It can also contaminate soil and nearby bodies of water. 

Common E-Waste Examples 

Here’s a list of everyday e-waste items: 

  • Computers, laptops, and other smart devices.
  • Cell phones and their charging cables.
  • CDs and DVDs.
  • Old landlines and fax machines.
  • Refrigerators and other freezers.
  • Microwave ovens.
  • Stoves.
  • Water Geysers.
  • Batteries.
  • Old, often obsolete cables.
  • Cracked cell phone and laptop screens.
  • Old VHS and Cassette tapes (remember these?).
phone, mobile, smartphone

It’s essential to note that many of these devices have become e-waste for various reasons. 

Your old cell phone, for instance, might become e-waste because of the latest upgrade’s release and you want to keep up with the times. 

However, your old CDs and DVDs might have become e-waste because you converted them into files on your computer. 

Those old VHS and cassette tapes have become waste because their technology is no longer viable today. The best place to find an old cassette player is a recycling center!

Many e-waste items get disposed of, and there are different reasons for this. Thus, it is essential to consider how to dispose of them in the best way. 

You can always recycle your old cell phone for scraps, but it might not be easy to recycle your old fax machine for the same value.

Let’s investigate the various disposal methods of e-waste and compare them to recycling methods. 

How Do You Dispose of E-Waste?

This blog focuses on e-waste recycling, but this is not the only form of e-waste disposal. To better understand how e-waste recycling works, it’s worth looking at these other methods of disposal. 

Showing the other disposal methods also made the benefits of recycling clearer. 

Historically, e-waste has been treated like other waste products. Historically, the most common form of waste management has been to dump waste in landfills. 

While this method effectively removes large amounts of waste away from humans, it is inefficient. The waste is effectively left to rot, poisoning the environment in the process. 

disposal, dump, garbage

Landfills have become unpopular as waste management systems because they do not deal with waste. Once dumped, it is often forgotten about. The soil becomes contaminated, and the dumpsite is not suitable for repurposing.

A response to this was to create systems of waste destruction. A standard method was incineration. However, the adverse effects of this were soon found. 

Burning electronic waste is dangerous and harmful to humans and the surrounding environment. Many electronic products contain trace elements of harmful chemicals. 

Lithium in most mobile phone batteries effectively increases battery life. However, it becomes toxic when burned. 

Recycling has become a popular method of waste disposal worldwide. Most forms of waste management center around recycling. This is because it reduces the amount of waste in the long run. 

Recycling is efficient because it allows you to repurpose, and re-use electronic products. It is as simple as redistributing something that someone finds obsolete to someone who finds it useful. 

Remember the cliche saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Electrical waste disposal methods are a great example. There are many precious metals found in electrical products.

E-waste disposal requires clever waste management systems. This helps the products to end up in recycling facilities. 

Resource recovery centers are experts at recycling e-waste. So, before you take e-waste disposal into your own hands, consult your local council. They can help you see what centers exist in your area. 

E-Waste Potential Hazards

You would want to consider how to dispose of e-waste because of its potential hazards properly. We’ve touched on a couple of examples already. However, it’s worth going deeper into a single example to represent the potential harm. 

One of the most common e-waste hazards caused by not recycling or improper disposal could be your cell phone battery. 

Many electrical items contain many hazardous materials in the battery. Usually, the type is commonly found in modern phones. The sheer amount of waste produced by the product makes it worth consideration. 

Standard modern cell phone batteries use lithium cobalt oxide to function. These chemicals are safe in small amounts when inside your battery. However, if left to rot, they can pose significant health dangers. 

Cadmium is another toxic substance found in most batteries. It is a known human carcinogen. It also does not break down in water, soil, or air and remains in tiny particles that humans and animals can ingest. 

Another common harmful substance is mercury. It’s commonly found in fluorescent tubes, old computers, and batteries, to name a few. Its usage is being phased out globally. This is because newer products avoid what we now know is a harmful chemical. However, many old appliances still contain mercury. 

Arsenic is one of the most dangerous substances. It is mostly found in most printed circuit boards, semiconductors, and computer screens. When burned, this hazardous chemical enters the atmosphere and is a leading cause of lung cancer and other nervous diseases. 

It is essential to use effective and safe waste management practices. Because of the hazardous chemicals found in most electronic waste.

Why E-Waste Recycling is Good for the Environment

volunteer, pollution, bottle plastic

There are many advantages to recycling e-waste. Here are my top 9 reasons why e-waste recycling is good for the environment:

  1. It’s good for the environment.
  2. It creates jobs and other business opportunities.
  3. It lessens the number of natural resources needed.
  4. It reduces the burden on landfills and dumpsites.
  5. It’s good for the soil.
  6. It’s good for the sea.
  7. It’s good for the air.
  8. Animals will thank you.
  9. It helps humans confront their relationship with technology.

Let’s delve into these points in greater detail.

1. E-Waste Recycling is Good for the Environment

Most schools worldwide teach that recycling is good for the environment. It’s generally agreed that human production of goods and services is unsustainable. Additionally, electronic products contribute to this problem. 

With recycling, everything that a person wants becomes useful. Usually, this means that it’ll end up in a pile of trash somewhere. Recycling reduces this by repurposing materials and giving them a new life. 

E-waste recycling works in much the same way. Try not to create piles of old computers and print cartridges. Rather create recycling schemes that give these products a new life. Our environment will no longer be full of heaps of unwanted products. 

2. E-Waste Recycling Creates Jobs and Other Business Opportunities

Due to their stability, many facets of the waste management industry are highly profitable in the long term. This is because waste management systems are always required if humans continue to produce. 

The e-waste recycling industry follows a similar pattern. Humans can technically live without their cell phones and computers. Though were the world to enter some apocalyptic wasteland, technology will likely continue to be an essential part of our lives. 

Technology usage has only grown exponentially in the last decade and will likely continue on this trajectory. The caveat is that more electronics also means more waste that needs to be recycled. 

Businesses looking to enter the recycling industry should consider their e-waste recycling capabilities. Not only does it majorly benefit the environment, but it is an industry that will grow alongside technology’s never-ending boom. 

The more jobs needed in the e-waste recycling industry; the more jobs become available. 

The e-waste recycling industry presents significant opportunities for business owners and investors.

3. E-Waste recycling Lessens the Number of Natural Resources Needed

This expected growth is excellent for the tech and recycling industries. However, it poses an environmental risk to the planet. E-waste recycling is uniquely positioned to aid in the reduction of natural resources needed to produce new products.

Many old electronic wires, like an old computer power cord, contain precious resources and metals like copper, zinc, and even gold. These finite resources are only available through mining and will one day run out. 

The more resources we can recover from old parts, the better. It lessens the number of natural resources we need to extract and helps save the planet.

And if you needed an extra reason, it’s much cheaper to reuse old gold than to mine a whole lot.

4. E-Waste Recycling Reduces the Burden on Landfills and Dumpsites

Some 37% of waste gets disposed of in landfills and other dumpsites. It’s great that this number is lower than in the past, and it suggests that waste management trends are moving away from landfills as a solution. 

E-waste recycling is part of this effort. By reusing, repurposing, and recycling old electronic parts, less ends up in landfills across the country. 

5. E-Waste Recycling is Good for the Soil.

The hazardous chemicals found in most electronic products contribute to environmental destruction. One way this is visible is through soil contamination. 

By recycling, you can help lessen the harmful chemicals that seep into soil. 

6. E-Waste Recycling is Good for the Sea.

The benefits of recycling e-waste benefit the sea in much the same way as it benefits soil health. However, the fluid nature of bodies of water adds additional elements.

Ocean waste is so detrimental because of hazardous chemicals’ ability to spread in water. In short, chemical spills from waste are difficult to contain because liquids are inherently fluid. 

Seas and oceans also span most of the globe. So, someone throwing their old washing machine in a landfill near an ocean in India could contaminate the waters on the West Coast of America. 

7. E-Waste Recycling is Good for the Air.

Much like water, air is challenging to contain. Therefore, it’s crucial to minimize the number of contaminating vapors. To achieve this always recycle-waste products. 

E-waste recycling is good for the air around us because it has an immediate influence on climate change and greenhouse gases.

A good example is looking into correctly disposing of mercury-lined fluorescent tubes. Incorrectly breaking these items will cause the mercury vapors to spread into the surrounding air.

Soil, water, and air health are essential to lessening the burden of climate change. Air health correlates more directly with the ozone layer.

So, while it’s no more important than either soil or water, it is uniquely positioned to have its recycling benefits.  

8. Animals Will Thank You for Recycling Your E-Waste.

Of course, the environment and the animals that cohabit on Earth will also benefit from e-waste recycling. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of animals and their well-being. However, consider the environmental harm of consuming animal products. The harm that comes from an animal living in a contaminated environment. 

9. E-Waste Recycling Gets Humans to Confront their Relationship with Technology.

The most significant benefit of recycling electronic waste is that it forces humans to confront the number of devices they use daily. 

As a society, we have grown dependent on many of these devices. It has created a culture where the latest technology feels essential.  

This is especially true when you associate these items with certain fashionable lifestyles. Sych is a successful businessman, which is often associated with having the latest and most expensive iPhone. 

There are unethical business practices, like planned obsolescence. These companies build products only meant to have a short lifespan. They are better understood when recycling occurs. This is because we can physically see how much you can reuse and how much becomes wasted unnecessarily. 

These are just eight reasons to recycle e-waste. Many more exist.

Making Money from E-Waste Recycling

Another benefit of e-waste recycling is the ability to earn money from it. While discussed earlier in the blog, it’s worth further developing.

People hearing that there is money in e-waste recycling helps boost its attractiveness. 

The most obvious way that people can make money from e-waste recycling is by disassembling old technology. They do this in search of valuable materials like gold and copper.

This is a short-term vision.

More business-savvy people should look at using e-waste recycling. They can create long-term, sustainable (no pun intended) businesses. The business continues after taking old scraps from old computer mice. 

A benefit of setting up an e-waste recycling business is that you can involve and employ more people in whatever recycling scheme you set up. 

Here are some ideas for those wanting to set up an e-waste recycling business: 

  • Set up a local electronic waste collection lot. For example, a computer recycling scheme. This is where you remove valuable resources from old technology. 
  •  Find out which of your neighbors at local businesses have unwanted computers and offer to take them free of charge. Then, sell them to a scrap yard for a profit. E-waste white goods, like old washing machines, are bulky items that many would like help getting rid of.
  • Run your drop-off point that promotes television and computer recycling.
  • Set up an old electronics supply store. It is surprising how many still look for items like blank cassette tapes and old vacuum cleaners.
  •  Think outside the box and get creative. Some artists might treasure old appliances and use them in their work, like printer cartridges. Consider contacting them and selling old devices to them. 

E-waste recycling can offer profitable business opportunities for anyone interested in making money. These are just a few suggestions to get your mind flowing. As with all business ventures, try to think about the specific situation of your prospective clientele. Think about how their e-to improve their waste management systems. 

Why We Should Recycle Our Mobile Phones

Many of the benefits of recycling mobile phones are like the general benefits of e-waste recycling. 

In short, recycling your phone lessens the burden of mineral extraction. It saves precious resources and reduces the amount of harmful chemicals. These harmful substances are contaminating the environment. 

However, an added benefit specific to mobile phones concerns how we currently use them. 

Mobile phones are rarely held onto for long periods. According to Steven Knight of Sell Cell, over 40% of people replace their cell phones 2 to 3 years after purchasing them.  

Did you know that technological upgrades are not the only reason for this? 

Mobile phones occupy a unique position in cultural life. They’re both essential to how we operate in daily life and a symbol of status. 

Having the latest iPhone, for instance, is a symbol of wealth alongside being seen as necessary.

Cell phone companies are also accused of planned obsolescence. This means the design of cell phones has an intentionally short lifespan. In turn, it forces consumers to purchase the latest model constantly. 

This results in a tremendous amount of unnecessary electronic waste. This is due to their manufacturing process and consumption. 

Recycling old cell phones and finding ways to repurpose them. So the latest model is only sometimes considered necessary to help fight this large amount of unnecessary waste. 

It can also help with some personal reflection on one’s relationship with cell phones and consumer culture in general. 

Recycling allows people to confront the amount of waste they are producing. These questions can help people grow. 

Everyone in the world should become more aware of the amount of e-waste that they are producing. This allows greater steps to be taken to confront high levels of consumption. High Levels of consumption are contributing to the climate change crisis.

E-Waste Disposal Sites Near Me

man, televisions, junkyard

Recycling services specializing in e-waste are relatively easy to find in Australia. This is partly due to the recycling options set up by the Australian government. Most collection services can handle household and commercial quantities at their drop-off points.

These collection services are often free of charge, like this program run by the City of Sydney.

Find designated collection points outside public buildings, like libraries or city council centers.

Final Thoughts on E Waste Recycling

E waste recycling is an essential part of managing a business in the twenty-first century. Technology is a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. We need to have efficient means to dispose of them. 

Recycling old and unwanted e waste ensures that old electronics do not rot on landfill sites and add to climate change. Instead, it offers these products a new life. Their new life can take a variety of forms. 

Overall, e waste recycling is good for the environment. Engaging in it will help your business run more sustainably. Customers will see that your business is geared towards this sustainable future and will be far more likely to come to you. 

Frequently Asked E-Waste Questions

What is the best way to get rid of e-waste

Find your nearest local drop-off point. They can assist with your specific e-waste case. They have the equipment to manage the waste stream of certain wastes.

These drop-off points are often free given the potential value of e-waste products.

Is my cell phone e-waste?

Yes, it is. Disposed cell phones form part of e-waste. You should recycle them into their correct e-waste stream.

What should I do with my old laptop?

Dispose of old laptops at local drop-off points. They are capable of handling e-waste recycling services.

Where Can I find out more about e-waste?

Check out The Global E Waste Statistics Partnership. Every year, they publish the global e-waste monitor. It reflects the world’s position regarding e-waste streams.