E-waste 101: What’s E-waste and how to manage it?
Everyone knows what’s e-waste, but how many of us take the threat that e-waste poses to us seriously? Our lives revolve around electronics – personal to professional. If your home entertainment is incomplete without a TV to watch movies on, your offices are incomplete without a computer to work on.
The answer to what’s e-waste is any electrical or electronic equipment that has been disposed of. This includes both working and damaged items that are thrown in the trash or donated to charitable retailers. Often, if the item remains unsold in the store, it will be discarded.
What’s e-waste for humans?
The complex composition and improper handling of electronic waste have a negative impact on human health. E-waste disposal methods used by unregulated backyard operators (e.g. the informal sector) to reclaim, reprocess and recycle electronic waste, expose workers to a range of toxic substances. Safety equipment such as gloves, masks and ventilators are virtually unknown and workers often have no idea what they are handling.
For example, burning circuit boards outdoors increases the concentration of dioxins in the area. These toxins cause an increased risk of cancer when inhaled by workers and residents. Toxic metals and poisons can also get into the bloodstream in the manual extraction and collection of small amounts of precious metals, and the workers are constantly exposed to toxic chemicals and highly concentrated acid fumes. The health hazards are many.
What’s e-waste for the environment?
Although electronics have become an integral part of everyday life, their dangerous effects on the environment must not be overlooked or underestimated. The interface between electrical and electronic equipment and the environment arises during the manufacture, processing and disposal of these products. Gases and particles in the air, the discharge of liquid waste into water and sewer systems, and the disposal of hazardous waste all contribute to environmental degradation.
What’s e-waste disposal?
Once your IT equipment – in the office or personal – has reached its end-of-life it is time to dispose of it and to do so responsibly is the ideal definition of e-waste disposal. In a modern workplace with frequent technology updates, it is imperative that companies work for responsible e-waste disposal. There are easy ways for your business to live responsibly with technology so as not to make your electronic pollution problem worse.
Below are three steps to help your business manage its electronic recycling and address this ever-growing form of waste.
1. Make informed purchases
This stage comes right at the beginning – at the purchase stage. By asking basic questions such as “Which brands have the lowest return rates?” and “What models do you need to repair the least?” consumers can make informed and sustainable electronic purchase decisions.
2. Repair or upgrade your electronics
Just because the equipment has stopped working does not mean it is obsolete. Give it a chance by opting for a repair or possible upgrade first. Your IT guy could work wonders!
3. Sell, swap or donate your electronics
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Instead of throwing it in the garbage you could perhaps sell it or donate it where it can be used – it might be of no use for you but it might be useful to those who cannot purchase it, such as underfunded schools or households.
What’s e-waste recycling?
Sometimes an electronic item is so far away that repairing, selling or giving it away is no longer an option. In these situations, it is a good time to recycle your electronics.
All old consumer electronics have a more important purpose than spending the rest of their days in a landfill. Recyclable electronics are a commodity and a potential generator of income. Depending on the size, location, and type of e-waste in your business, your old purchases could generate new cash flow. The key is to recycle safely.
It is important to work with a certified electronics recycling company to ensure your devices aren’t accidentally ending up in a landfill. GreenTek Reman is one of the leading IT Asset Disposition & e-waste Management companies in India with almost a decade of experience in the Reuse, Recycling, and Recovery of precious resources from electronic waste.