Smartphone give up the ghost? Laptop running slow? Drop your tablet computer into a swimming pool? Whatever the reason for upgrading an electronic device, there’s really is no keeping one device forever. Eventually, they get so out-of-date they aren’t compatible with anything, and you’ll need to upgrade.
So when it is time to upgrade, remember to recycle your electronics. If the device is still in decent condition, you can always donate it for reuse. If it has been run over by a car, you can always donate it to be scrapped down for its precious metals. There are tons of other reasons to donate your electronics, and below are the top 10 of them.
1. Recycling electronics is easier than ever
There are tons of ways to recycle your electronics. First, you can find a certified e-cycler, who will destroy your sensitive data and know how to properly recycle the materials of the device so they do not become toxic landfill waste. Many municipalities will also take electronics, just check with your local recycling center. Plus, there are manufacturer take-back programs that will reuse your old device when you turn it in for a new one.
2. It’s hazardous not to recycle electronics
Between the lead, arsenic and mercury in electronic devices, it’s hazardous not to go through a respected electronics recycler. Irresponsibly disposed of devices can end up in landfills and leak hazardous chemicals into water supplies. This is especially possible when electronics end up getting shipped to other countries that don’t have the means to dispose of e-waste properly. Do the world a favor, and recycle your electronic device.
3. Data can be destroyed securely
Reputable e-waste recyclers are also experts in destroying confidential data securely. They’ll usually either strip magnetic fields off a device, overwrite data or physically destroy a device so that data can never be recovered.
There have been too many stories of people who just dump devices containing sensitive information and then the information ends up on eBay
or someone actually finds sensitive data in a dumpster
. Go safe and recycle.
4. We already have too much e-waste
If there’s one thing the world is not short on, it’s e-waste. The world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014, according to the United Nations
, which accounts for a nearly 24 percent increase since 2010. On top of that, the UN Environment Program said 90 percent of e-waste is illegally traded or dumped
every year. And we just keep making more e-waste. In 2000 the total amount of e-waste was 1.9 million tons for the U.S., and by 2012, that number hit 3.4 million tons
. Luckily, there’s a simple solution. You guessed it: Recycle your electronics.
5. Old devices have tons of precious metals
While not quite a literal “gold mine,” e-waste is rife with rare metals. According to the EPA
, every 1 million cell phones contains 75 pounds of gold, along with 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver and 33 pounds of palladium. All of that can be melted down and reused in new devices or other manufacturing uses. That’s much better than letting precious metals sit in a landfill. Throwing away electronics is like throwing away perfectly good gold jewelry.
6. Someone else needs your device
As mentioned above, when you turn in your functional devices they are usually routed to the reuse market. That means they could be going to underprivileged families, schools that need the devices or even to soldiers abroad. By recycling your device, you’re doing that much more to not be part of the “haves and have nots” world our greed has managed to build.
7. Throwing out a device can be illegal
Yes, in some places pitching your device is actually a crime. Many cities consider it against the law
to just throw old computers into your trash bin, and California has been cracking down
on companies that illegally dump e-waste. The hazards are just too great, when all the potential toxins are taken into account, so dumping e-waste is becoming more and more illegal. If it’s illegal in your area, that means recycling e-waste is that much more imperative. For everyone else, it’s still a good idea.
8. Recycling could save you money
Some manufacturers and retailers offer programs and deals where if you turn in your old working device, you can get a new one either free or at a discount. Then the device gets donated. These offers usually take place in the form of a voucher that you can apply to either another service or a new device. Either way, it comes out to a win-win for everyone. You get a new device, someone in need gets an older, but working, device and the manufacturer gets to hand out the shiny new gadget of the day.
Plus, many e-waste recycling services will provide pick-up services to the community for free.
9. Recycling means less production waste
Recycling also takes new resources that would need to be mined and produced out of the equation. According to the EPA
, “Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. One metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the U.S.”
The EPA also mentioned, in addition to conserving natural resources, we can avoid air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that all come from the manufacturing and mining of the raw materials that are already sitting in our old devices.
10. Get the ethical ego boost
Let’s be honest, doing good is fun because it makes you feel like a better person than you were yesterday. I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that. It’s like leveling up your life.
When you’re donating electronics, you’re saving the environment, protecting people from hazardous materials and donating to the needy. You can feel like a superhero just by dropping off your electronics to some collection site, no running into a burning building required. So recycle your electronics, and ride that ego boost.