Electronic waste, commonly referred to as e-waste, is any electronic device that has been discarded by its former user. Whenever possible, it is best to fix or have your old electronics refurbished so they can be given a longer or second life. However, obsolete or non-repairable devices need to be recycled responsibly and not just by anybody calling themselves a recycler! They need to be recycled by an e-Stewards certified recycler.
E-waste is Hazardous Waste
It is not widely known, but most of our old electronic equipment contains hazardous substances, so e-waste is actually considered hazardous waste. These toxic substances include:
- brominated flame retardants (BFRs)
These toxic ingredients of our electronics can have long-term effects such as cancer, DNA damage, or birth defects.
It’s vital to recycle or reuse your old electronics carefully and never simply dispose of it with the trash.
Reclaiming Finite Resources
Further, all electronics contain finite and sometimes precious or critical resources that consume a lot of energy when mined, refined, and manufactured and will be lost for future use if not recycled. Such resources include:
- petroleum-based plastics
- rare earth metals
Therefore, your electronics should be fixed and reused to the extent possible and if not possible always recycled by a responsible recycler – e-Stewards.
Your Personal Data is at Risk
E-waste may also contains your personal data including your:
- bank and social security numbers.
So, when you let go of your laptop or phone that data goes with it, putting you at risk for crimes like theft, identity theft, blackmail or forgery.