Did you know the world produces 50 million tons of e-waste every year? This type of waste makes up 70% of all toxic waste, and only about 12.5% of it is recycled.1
Following the holiday season, you may have upgraded a piece of technology in your life, or perhaps you're planning a purchase of new tech with some of that Christmas cash.
Before you dispose of your old electronics, read below on the three R's of sustainability to do your part for the planet.
The first and most impactful way that you can slow down the production of e-waste is to reduce any unnecessary consumption of electronics.
- Only replace electronics when necessary: Unnecessary electronics purchases can be costly for you, and the environment! Instead of pouring your money into a new product every couple of years, consider investing time in taking care of your devices to make them last.
- Buy tech with good reviews and longevity: When you are ready for an upgrade, take time to research the product and the manufacturer. Does the maker of your product have a reputation of producing durable products that are built to last? Sometimes it might be a slight increase in your investment up-front that may save you from purchasing a new device sooner than is necessary.
- Consult warranty information: Take note of the duration and quality of any warranty policy associated with your tech purchases and whether the manufacterer supports your right to repair your items.
After reduction, the next best thing in doing your part to minimize e-waste is to reuse.
- Fix it before you replace it: While many of us do not have the expertise to fix our own electronics, the next time your technology is on the fritz, consider taking it to a local business that can refurbish it. Fixing products is cheaper and requires fewer materials than buying new ones. Plus, more often than not, malfunctioning technology has many years left in it once it is properly fixed.
- Refurbish: When you are ready to say goodbye to a piece of tech you no longer have a use for, rather than tossing it in the trash, find a nearby business that will take the products to refurbish and resell. If you are in the market for a new cell phone or laptop, you could even consider purchasing a refurbished product as well. Prices tend to be far more affordable, and you will help support circular economics in your community.
Eventually, electronics reach the end of their lifespans. At this point, it is important to dispose of e-waste properly.
- Not your average recycling: Please note, electronics of any kind cannot be recycled in your regular single-sort recycling bin. Why? Electronics, as they break down, release toxic chemicals and metals into the surrounding environment, and those that contain lithium batteries could potentially start fires in local recycling centers.
- Recycle Responsibly: Take your unwanted electronics to your county drop site that accepts electronics or an organization that specializes in properly managing e-waste. Recycling your old tech allows for the opportunity to capture and reuse rare metals and materials, lowering the demand for mining of precious metals, and treating our precious earth a little more kindly!
Footnotes and Sources
1. ReuseMN.org, October 25, 2022