Electronic devices found around the home and office, such as computers, printers, televisions, DVD players are usually forgotten when it comes to recycling, but by recycling our electronics we can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.
Forms of Electronic waste
- Computers, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice
- Mobile phones
- Photocopiers and faxes
- Printer cartridges
- DVD/CD players
- Digital cameras
- Game consoles
- Power tools
- Alarm clocks and radios
Plenty of good reasons to recycle our electronics
There are a number of substances contained within electronic devices that are harmful to us and harmful to the environment. The following substances can be highly toxic and environmentally damaging; they can also be found in everyday electronic wastes:
- Antimony trioxide
When electronic wastes are sent to landfill these harmful substances can leach out into the environment, and can then seep into groundwater, contaminate the soil and enter the food chain. These substances also present a risk to human health – simply by coming in contact with these substances, humans can develop health problems including respiratory ailments, and reproductive, developmental and nervous system problems.
In addition to harmful contents, most types of electronic waste contain many valuable resources like lead, aluminium, nickel, mercury, cadmium and lithium. These resources can be recovered, recycled and reused over and over again. Often much less energy is needed to recover these resources than is required to produce new materials (just imagine the difference between mining or recycling nickel, as one example!).
Reducing electronic waste
Here are a few ideas to help reduce your electronic waste:
- See if anyone else needs or can use the item
- Consider whether or not you really need a new item
- Where feasible, repair machinery, appliances and equipment rather than purchasing new equipment
- Avoid disposable products, only buy products that are durable, repairable and have a good warranty
There are many different ways that you can recycle your electronic wastes. The internet is a great place to find your local recycling options; many local governments have dedicated electronic recycling depots. Below are a few quick hints on recycling electronics:
- Safely store electronics in a dry place until there is a collection point near you
- Find out if your local council has an electronic waste collection point
- Use programs like ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ and ‘Mobile Muster’
- Use Battery World Stores to recycle household batteries
- If your workplace has televisions and computers to dispose of, visit the electronic equipment pages on Planet Ark’s business recycling website.
Sources and websites to check out