When it finally comes time to get rid of that old hard drive, things aren’t as simple as just tossing it into the trash. Not only is this illegal in many places — doing so also contributes to the increasing amount of toxic chemicals being found in landfills.
When weighing your options for recycling old electronics, remember that disposing of them is more complicated than it may seem.
Where Electronic Waste Goes
According to Greenpeace, there are a number of places that e-waste ends up when it’s thrown away:
- Landfills. More than 4.6 million tons of e-waste ended up in US landfills in 2000. This waste has the potential to damage the environment and impact local communities.
- Incinerators. A large amount of e-waste is burned every year. Burning this waste releases heavy metals into the air, potentially accumulating in the food chain — especially in fish — over time.
- Other countries. Some e-waste that isn’t put in landfills or burned is given to countries with less strict environmental laws than the United States, leading to problems over time.
The Dangers of Electronic Waste
E-waste has the potential to be very dangerous and contains a number of toxic substances. These substances, some of which are listed below, can cause health problems and pose a great risk to the environment.
E-waste houses many dangerous substances including (but certainly not limited to):
Some of these substances are more dangerous than others, but all pose health threats when improperly disposed of — something to keep in mind the next time you’re thinking about simply throwing a hard drive or computer into the trash.
What to do with E-Waste
Luckily, there is a great way to get rid of electronic waste that prevents many of the substances already named from making their way into the environment: recycling. Recycling e-waste, or eCycling, safely gets rid of toxic chemicals in electronics and leads to less long-term consumption of resources when producing electronics and other goods.
The EPA gives a couple of great reasons for eCycling:
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year
- For every one million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered
In addition to recycling, the EPA also notes that, instead of recycling old electronics, users should also consider donating working electronics or using them for longer periods of time. This keeps e-waste out of the waste stream for a longer time and is beneficial in the long run.
How DataShield Helps
DataShield doesn’t just get rid of old documents and data: we also recycle old electronics. If it has a plug or battery, we recycle it, and we are committed to reducing the number of toxic chemicals in landfills over time.
DataShield is one of two businesses in the Omaha area certified by the BBB for electronics waste management. If you’re interested in learning more about our commitment to eCycling, or have electronics you need to recycle, contact us today.