At some point, we all have to deal with e-waste…and the fact that it can’t be put in normal household trash. Why is proper disposal of e-waste so important, and how can you do it right?

What is E-Waste?

E-waste stands for electronic waste, and refers to electronic products that are at the end of their useful life. It’s a subcategory of special waste, which also includes things like modern light bulbs, antifreeze, batteries, etc. E-waste generally cannot be put in regular household trash and must be handled correctly. Sometimes this can be inconvenient, but it is necessary to protect you and the environment.

When you have a cell phone, computer, printer, or appliance that has reached the end of its life it’s important to dispose of it properly. Why?

Why is Proper Disposal of E-Waste so Important?

There are two major reasons why e-waste needs to be disposed of properly:

1. E-waste is potentially valuable to recyclers. Old electronic equipment contains materials such as copper, aluminum, lithium and gold. Recycling these materials minimizes virgin resource extraction and saves energy. In some cases, your old electronic equipment can be refurbished and reused or broken down for parts.

2. Electronic equipment contains toxic materials, especially lead and arsenic. In a landfill, these substances can leach out, posing a risk to humans and wildlife in the area.

Because of the latter it is generally illegal to dispose of electronic items in the regular trash. Another potential issue is cybersecurity. Intact hard drives can potentially be pulled out of the trash and mined by thieves for data and personal information. This is a larger issue for businesses and self employed people, but as most people now use their computers to store financial information, it’s something worth considering.

Who Takes E-Waste?

Depending on where you live, e-waste disposal may be carried out by the county or by private firms. In Nevada, most e-waste is handled by Certified Electronics Recyclers, who are certified to either the Responsible Recycling Standard for Electronics Recyclers or the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment.

Make sure that the recycler you choose accepts the items you are trying to recycle. Recycling is often free, but you may have to pay a small charge, particularly for CRT TVs or monitors (these are especially challenging for a recycler to handle, and not all recyclers will take them). While these charges may seem frustrating, they are meant to cover the cost of disposing of hazardous materials. Many recyclers waive the charges for less hazardous items as they get the benefit of valuable recyclables.

If you are recycling a laptop or desktop computer, then you should wipe the hard drive first and then choose a facility that will properly dispose of the drive rather than reusing it, unless the system was never used to handle sensitive information. Some e-waste recyclers, such as The Blind Center, will pick up waste as well as letting you drop it off.

There are certified recyclers in most locations who will take your e-waste. Be aware that electronics recyclers will generally not take other recyclables such as cans and glass; they are specialists who handle e-waste only. They will recycle, refurbish, or reuse your old electronics.

Another option for items that still work is to donate them. Many charities will take older, but functional smartphones, which are then refurbished and given to soldiers, homeless people, or victims of domestic abuse.

If you have electronic goods or appliances that you need to get rid of, remember that these items should not go in the regular trash. Instead, you should find a local company willing to recycle them properly and dispose of hazardous components in a safe manner. For more advice on how to handle various matters involving electricity and electronic items, contact Penny Electric today.