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 increasing toxic chemicals in landfills.
When weighing your electronic recycling options, remember that disposing of them is more complicated than it may seem.
Where E-waste Goes
According to Greenpeace, e-waste ends up all over the place when it’s thrown away:
- Landfills. More than 4.6 million tons of e-waste has ended up in U.S. landfills. This e-waste can damage the environment and impact local communities.
- Incinerators. A large amount of e-waste burns every year. Burning this electronic waste releases heavy metals into the air, potentially accumulating in the food chain—especially in fish—over time.
- Other countries. Some e-waste isn’t put in landfills or burned. Instead, it’s shipped to countries with less-strict environmental laws than the U.S., leading to environmental problems over time.
The Dangers of E-waste
E-waste carries dangerous potential 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, electronic recycling services exist to get rid of e-waste and prevent many of the toxic substances from affecting the environment. 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.
- Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year.
- For every 1 million cell phones we recycle, 35,000 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 recommends users consider donating working electronics or using them for longer periods of time instead of recycling old electronics. This keeps e-waste out of the waste stream for a longer time—beneficial in the long run.
How DataShield Helps
DataShield doesn’t just get rid of old documents and data: we’re experts at electronic recycling. If it has a plug or battery, we recycle it, and we help reduce the number of toxic chemicals in landfills over time.
DataShield is one of the Omaha area’s BBB-certified e-waste management providers. If you’re interested in learning more about our commitment to eCycling, or have electronics you need to recycle, contact us today.