We have all heard of electronic recycling centers. But why is it that our electronic devices need to be recycled in special locations? And why do many normal landfills or other facilities reject electronic waste?
Electronics are often some of the shortest lived things which we buy. Not only do they frequently wear out in less than a decade, but the rapid progress being made in the development of new technology means that our newest and best components today might seem like dinosaurs in just a few years. Combined with the trend of integrating electronics into nearly every facet of our lives, this means that every year there are more and more tons of electronic waste being produced.
However, electronics are complex, and contain many different components that need to be recycled carefully. Generally, this if for one of two reasons. First, some components in electrical devices contain materials that are dangerous. Whether it be radioactivity, toxicity, or other danger, simply dumping these parts into a landfill could seriously endanger us and the environment over time. Electronic components often contain things such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, all of which can have powerful and toxic effects on exposed humans. Therefore, these components will need to be carefully handled, and either recycled or stored in such a way that they do not present a danger.
Second, many components in electrical devices have rare elements or precious materials. In this case, the use of these valuable materials gives a financial motive for recycling electronics. Elements such as gold, copper, silver, and aluminum are commonly used in the production of electronic components. Because computers are so complex, with many tiny components, some facilities even disassemble them by hand, sorting the components for later recycling.Other facilities use massive and complicated machines to break down and sort the components of electronic devices. Additionally, recycling these materials helps the environment by reducing the emissions which would be associated with the production of virgin materials.
Therefore, you should take the warning to dispose of your electronic waste properly. You will likely be able to protect the environment, while at the same time making it cheaper for producers to create the next generation of technology. This awareness of the cycle taken by many electronic components helps to create a better future. So if you have an old electronic device, first look for opportunities to reuse it. If these do not pan out however, make sure it goes to an electronic waste facility.