Have you ever wondered what happens to your old electronics?
And we don’t mean where they end up in your cluttered cupboards!
Old laptops and phones are not like any other kind of waste. They don’t generally end up out on the garbage heaps with the rest of our household refuse.
In fact, our electronics can often even up leading second lives.
So, if you’re interested in finding out about what happens to our e-waste, read on!
First off, we need to recognize that much of our electronic waste (or e-waste) does end up in landfills.
This actually poses quite significant negative impacts. On the one hand, old electronics contain a number of materials that can really harm the environment. There are lots of harmful chemicals in our electronics, like barium, bromide, and mercury.
When we dispose of our electronics with our regular trash, they can leak these chemicals into the surroundings. This can harm, for example, natural soil and clean waterways.
But the other major impact of not recycling our old electronics is that this can, in turn, have a major impact on our health. If harmful chemicals get into the waterways, we can end up drinking in it or swimming in it!
Luckily, there is a whole system in place to help avoid sending our old electronics out into the environment. We usually call this decommissioning IT equipment, and sometimes it is called asset retirement.
What this means is that our old electronics are taken to designated facilities where they are disassembled and disposed of correctly. For example, an old computer might contain plastic and metal that can be effectively recycled, while internal circuit boards might need to be kept separate.
There are actually services that are solely designed to provide asset management solutions. This is particularly important for businesses, which go through electronics at a faster rate than average people.
One of the recycling possibilities for our old electronics is actually that they end up being put to use in new electronics. We can often reuse certain components of electronics, and we can certainly extract from them the raw materials that go into new manufacturing processes.
For example, we can extract those chemicals that are harmful to the environment, melt them down, and reuse them in new production lines. Easy!
Handle Old Electronics With Care
As a parting message, it’s important to recognize how critical it is that you treat your old electronics properly when you have finished using them. As a society, we are often prone to not thinking about our waste.
It’s a case of ‘what we can’t see can’t hurt us.’ But in the case of e-waste, it definitely can hurt us. So, if you have finished with your electronics, make sure you take the time and effort to dispose of them correctly in a designated service.
If you’ve found this information useful, why not check out some of our other great articles on tech topics?