Friday, October 17, 2008


October 15, 2008

The proper disposal of e-waste is critical

By Aaron Schroer

Lead, mercury, cadmium, polyvinyl chloride and chromium are all toxic chemicals lurking within your electronics.

Electronics that are used in households, offices, hospitals and schools have a limited life span but are more frequently made obsolete by advancements in technology.

What happens to these products as they reach the end of their life? One would probably be surprised to find graveyards of yesterday's technology stored in stockrooms, empty cubicles, warehouses, gyms, garages, and closets. Every year millions of pounds of E-waste are discarded in landfills and dumped in rural settings, causing toxic pollution while poisoning streams and polluting fields but never decomposing.

What options are available for the environmentally concerned responsible e-steward? "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!" This is the mantra of recyclers and it is commonly represented by the three arrows of the popular recycling icon. Keeping these three principles in mind will ensure that the growth of e-waste will be stunted and ultimately be a problem of the past.

"Reduce" the amount of potentially hazardous electronics purchased to meet needs efficiently. Simple ideas, like networking a printer to serve a group of users, can be very beneficial in saving money on the front end as well as reducing the amount of equipment that is ultimately made obsolete. While shopping for new products, look for the "Energy Star" stamp.

Products that are obsolete for one may be highly sought after by others. "Reuse" is possible through donations to charitable organizations, such as cell phones for soldiers and the Salvation Army. Online classifieds help people save money and cut down on waste simultaneously.

When a product is outdated and no longer desirable it is critical that it be disposed of properly. Most dumps, landfills and scrap yards are increasingly becoming aware of the toxicity in these electronics and are turning them away. While less than 20 percent of e-waste in America is currently being recycled, companies like Green Earth Computer Recycling Services specialize in recycling these electronics.

Governments all over the world are taking steps to regulate what can be dumped and how these products are handled. The public is demanding less toxic electronics and manufacturers are responding with greener machines and pledges of improvements as they make progress with new innovative design. To curb the e-waste crisis, it is up to individuals, businesses and organizations to be proactive with the proper disposition of electronics that are currently in use or storage.

A simple phone call to a computer recycling company is all that is necessary to get outdated equipment moving in the right direction.

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