It’s Smart to Watch Your Electronic Waste Habits

Posted by Frank Milia

Nov 6, 2013 11:07:00 AM

Growing up watching someone talk into their watch always looked pretty cool. Now with the Samsung Galaxy Gear that high-tech, talk into your watch age is here. Samsung has been winning praise for their ads which speak to that TV viewing audience.  An article on Forbes.com focuses on the effectiveness of the ads despite some major disappointments in the actual product. The issue not addressed is the effect on the environment an item with such a small shelf life has, and that these types of gadgets tend to be the electronics that are not recycled appropriately.

The smart watch is a small addition to a large problem. Enhanced technology and keen marketing feed our desire to keep up with trending hardware. The smart watch of today will be traded in for something new and exciting in less than two years. Our recycling habits, or the lack thereof, must be addressed.

Smart_Phone_DestructionIn an article on Trehugger.com, “Our Wireless Addiction is Creating a Big E-Waste Problem" there is some alarming information. “The EPA estimates that less than 10% of mobile phones are getting recycled, and only about 25% of all e-waste (by weight) ends up being collected for recycling. And because all of these electronic gadgets contain not only precious metals that could be reused (which would cut down on the environmental impact and social injustices associated with many "resource extraction" and refining methods), they also contain substances that are toxic to both humans and wildlife (such as lead, dioxins, mercury, cadmium, plastics, and fire retardants), finding appropriate end-of-life solutions for these products is an important part of the sustainability puzzle.”

The article goes on to describe how, “An estimated 50-80% of collected electronics end up getting exported to developing nations. This trend of exporting our e-waste means that we're also exporting all of the toxic effects of the materials to places with extremely lax regulations for health, safety, and the environment.”

So what is the solution to this problem? Working with a reputable IT asset disposition firm for your business is a good start, but mobile device recycling efforts need to take place at home as well. We all need to make sure that our electronic junk drawers at home are not emptied into the general waste bin. Odds are your town, city, or local electronics store has programs and events to help you appropriately recycle mobile devices and other surplus computer equipment. A simple rule to follow is if an item has a board and plugs in it is likely regulated electronic waste and should not be put to the curb.  

Here at IT Asset Management Group the critical nature of this problem is addressed through a Zero Landfill and Zero Exportation of E-Waste policy as well as our commitment to respsonible R2 recycling practices to certify this practice. This means ITAMG and its downstream recycling partners do not export electronic waste or send surplus IT assets to landfills.

As technology pushes forward with innovation and new gadgets we must increase our peers understanding of the need to recycle electronics appropriately. Through simple planning and careful consideration companies and home users can ensure old gadgets don’t become new pollutants.  

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