Up to Our Chins in E-Waste: What You Can Do!
Published on February 12, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer
Contributed by Jerry Ellis, IT Program Chair, Broadview University – Orem Campus
You don’t have to have a degree in IT to know that we are all producing electronic waste every time we update our technology.Â What do you do with your old electronics like your desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, iPad, cell phone, television, keyboard, monitor, and computer mouse?
As todayâ€™s society becomes more mobile in their communication technologies, the discarded electronics most often end up in a landfill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency. in 2009 an estimated 438 million new electronic products were sold; 5 million short tons (2,000 lbs.) of electronic products were in storage;Â 2.37 million short tons of electronic products were ready for end-of-life management; and only 25% of these tons were collected for recycling.
Todayâ€™s technology, while convenient, has many hidden perils when disposed of directly into our landfills.
Many of todayâ€™s electronics may contain mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, heavy metals as well as gold or other precious metals used during their manufacturing process.Â These can then leach into the ground water that we rely upon for our very subsistence.
Proper recycling of the electronics can recover the heavy and precious metals.Â This in turn can augment the needs and resources required to mine these items throughout the world.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency FAQ,
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 US homes in a year.
- One metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the US.
What can I do?
- Security Concerns?
- You should consider using a free tool such as Darikâ€™s Boot and Nuke DBAN to wipe your hard drive before donating the equipment.
- Cell Phone Donation/Destruction steps to follow:
- Follow the wireless carrierâ€™s steps to delete all data on the phone; Use a data erasing tool to erase all data on the phone, you can often find a tool freely available on the Internet; Do a factory hard reset on the phone and lastly remove the SIM card.Â Oh, donâ€™t forget if you are no longer using the wireless carrier for your cell phone CANCEL the contract!
- You can often find services online that will send you a pre-paid envelope to send your cell phone to them for recycling.Â Some programs that benefit from such services are:
- Domestic Violence Groups
- US Military Personnel
- Non-Profit Groups
E-waste Recycling within the State of Utah
On March 22, 2011 Utah became the 25th state to establish an electronics recycling program when Senate Bill 184 (SB 184) was signed into law by Governor Herbert.Â This bill covers computers, laptop, desktop and tablet computers, printers, televisions and television peripherals.
How to Buy Greener Electronics
Going Green â€“ Thatâ€™s a nice buzz-word that gets thrown around a lot but what does it actually mean and how can I be more GREEN Aware in my Consumer Purchases?
- You could purchase from Manufactures who offer a â€˜TakeBackâ€™ program.
- You can dispose of your E-waste via responsible recyclers.
For information about E-Waste Recycling within the State of Utah go to http://www.deq.utah.gov/
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