Why the World Would Suffer Without Electronic Recycling

Grey E-waste with Blue Sign Board


As a Professional Organizer, I often find old computers, tv’s and cell phones lurking in closets, office closets and basements. I always suggest that clients wipe the hard drive and delete all information from their phones then haul them off to Goodwill for recycling.  I am happy to report that Goodwill is a responsible recycler.

I mention this because when we take our old electronics to an e-cycler, we would expect them to be recycled properly right? Well, come to find out that isn’t always the case. Our e-waste could end up being taken apart by prisoners that aren’t protected from the known hazards. They could be stockpiled in warehouses only to later be abandoned. E-waste could also go the route of what industry experts believe happens more than 50% of the time. If you take your equipment to just any old electronics recyclers, your old electronics could end up in a village in China or in a slum in Ghana, Nigeria, or India.

What I will highly suggest to you is that you do your research before taking electronics in to be recycled.  I found this site that will tell you if your state has any legislations pertaining to e-waste.  Once you link to your state, it will give you an option to find recyclers in your area.

Besides Goodwill, some other responsible e-recyclers are Best Buy and Staples.  Enter your zip code here to find recyclers in your area.

Whatever you do, don’t throw your electronics in the trash.  See why here.

While researching for this blog post, I have to say the statistics I uncovered relating to e-waste have had an incredible impact on me.  I had no idea the amount of fossil fuel, chemicals, and water that are being used to create just one computer and monitor.  It is reported that 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water are used in the manufacture of just one computer and monitor. (source Electronics TakeBack Coalition, A Project of the Tides Center. “Facts and Figures on E-Waste and Recycling)

Some other interesting statistics provided by reputable sites…

  • In 2009, discarded TVs, computers, peripherals (including printers, scanners, fax machines) mice, keyboards, and cell phones totaled about 2.37 million short tons.
  • E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
  • 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide every year.
  • Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.
  • A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.
  • Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.
  • For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered.
  • Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.
  • E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.
  • It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.
  • Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to: Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes, LCD desktop monitors, LCD televisions, Plasma televisions, Portable DVD players with LCD screens.

Before sending those computers and phones off to the recycler, be sure and erase any personal data or photos.

Now that you know how to do it, be sure and get those old computers, cell phones, monitors and tv’s out of your space. Recycle them and create more room in your home, your office, and your brain.

In the interest of celebrating Earth Day Every Day, please be a responsible electronics recycler.