As a society, we’re constantly striving for newer electronic devices. Unfortunately, our endless quest for the latest gadget is taking a serious toll on the environment.
Electronic waste, or e-waste for short, encompasses electrical and electronic equipment that’s outdated, unwanted, or broken. And it’s a global issue. Just last year, we produced 50 million metric tonnes of it, according to estimates by the UN Environmental Programme. To put that in perspective, that’s the same weight as 125,000 jumbo jets. Unfortunately, those numbers are only set to increase.Right now, 90% of e-waste is illegally traded or dumped. That’s why we need to do better. By ensuring that our e-waste is recycled through the proper channels, we can prevent it from finding its way to the landfill and put a stop to the illegal e-waste trade. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to help empower consumers and communities.
E-waste management organizations
There are currently two non-profit organizations in North America working to help communities properly dispose of e-waste, and they seamlessly integrate with existing recycling programs.
In the U.S., there’s the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER). The organization was founded in 2005 to assist with the implementation of electronics recycling programs across the country, and they’ve had plenty of success in West Virginia, where they’ve diverted thousands of pounds of electronics from local landfills, boosted the recycling industry locally, and increased awareness.
For Canadians, the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) helps regulate and operationalize e-recycling in eight provinces. Each year, they keep 100,000 tonnes of e-waste out of landfills. They provide videos with helpful e-cycling tips and discuss the importance of recycling electronics, along with running government-approved stewardship programs on behalf of businesses for end-of-life electronic disposal.
What can consumers do?
As consumers, there are plenty of ways we can reduce e-waste. For example:
- If you don't need it, don't buy it (like that fancy new iPhone).
- Extend the life of your devices with cases and screen protectors. If a gadget’s gotten wet, try the rice trick (or, even better, use a desiccant).
- Purchase products with the Energy Star label, or other markings that indicate sustainability.
- Dispose of your electronics responsibly, whether that means selling a working item, donating it, or using Recycle Coach to find out where it can be recycled.
What about communities?
Local governments can also get involved. Raising e-cycling awareness is as easy as:
- Hosting a local e-waste collection disposal and education event at your community center.
- Organizing a film screening and talk at your local library. Movies like “The E-Waste Tragedy” are a great way to engage and educate your community. Invite e-waste organizers to deliver a presentation on how to dispose of electronics responsibly.
- Running educational campaigns that empower consumers to take care of and repair their electronics for long-term use.
- Get Recycle Coach. We can help you promote e-waste events and boost attendance. Plus, our What goes where? tool makes it easy for residents to find the right drop-off location for their electronic waste.
How can organizations make a difference?
Businesses can encourage better e-waste recycling both at home and in the office. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Donate electronics that are still functioning but no longer in use.
- Develop a long-term implementation and maintenance strategy when purchasing new electronics. This will extend the life of the product and reduce business costs.
- Start an office recycling program.
- Partner with local e-waste recycling programs to properly dispose of outdated electronics
Electronic waste is a growing issue. By taking small steps, we can collectively reduce it and encourage a circular economy.
To learn more about how Recycle Coach can help you make it easier for your residents to properly dispose of their e-waste, feel free to get in touch by clicking the button below.
We save people time and energy with intuitive digital tools that make recycling easy. Our goal is to be in every city, on every device, empowering communities to work together to waste less and recycle more. We’re recycling simplified.