By Dave Wall
Every time Apple, Samsung, or any other electronic device manufacturer releases new products, the media tends to grab hold and saturate news feeds with the incredible advances these new product bring for consumer and business users. They’re not wrong of course – think about all the things we’re now able to do from smartphone in our hands. It’s an unprecedented level of convenience, efficiency, and productivity, and the hype helps generate sales momentum as these new products become available.
But, what is left out is what to do with your old devices when you replace them. Of course, some phones are recycled when they are exchanged for new ones at mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T. But when you consider the third-party market for not only phones, but other devices like tablets, laptops, smart watches, and the many other products that permeate today’s digital lifestyles, it’s clear that there’s an awful lot of electronic waste being created.
The United States alone generated almost 12 million tons of e-waste in 2014 according to the EPA. The UN reported that 44.7 million tons of e-waste was generated globally in 2016, and the World Economic Forum reported that number had risen for 485 million tons in 2018. That makes it the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. Yet, only about 20% was recycled. So, where do the rest of these items end up? Certainly, many are likely collecting dust in homes and offices, but a large percentage ends up in landfills or incinerators, both of which are harmful to the environment.
E-recycling offers an effective way to get rid of old electronics safely, but how should you recycle your electronics? There are many local retailers that will recycle e-waste – some of them regardless of where they were purchased. And of course, mobile carriers often offer rebates for trade-in that can be applied towards the purchase of a new device.
If you keep an eye on your community events, you will also likely find e-recycling opportunities. The Milford Bank, for instance, will be holding two Shred & Recycle Days this year, making it easy for residents to get rid of their old electronics, as well as paper documents.
The first TMB Shred & Recycle Day will take place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, from 10:00am-1:00pm at the Post Road West branch (295 Boston Post Road, Milford, CT), and will include free e-recycling for anyone and free document shredding for customers (non-customers may still take advantage of the shredding service for a $5 donation to a local non-profit).
The second Shred & Recycle day will take place in the fall, after families have purchased new laptops and tablets for the new school year, on Saturday, October 12, 2019 (10am-12pm).
Recycling electronics and paper provides a constant stream of resources that have countless uses, helps reduce the amount of junk that piles up in landfills across the globe, and reduces the environmental impact of dumping. There are many materials that can be harvested from old electronics that can be re-used to manufacture new ones, including, gold, silver, palladium, and copper. The WEF values the value of materials that can be recovered through e-recycling at more than $62 billion. Apple says it was able to collect more than a ton of gold from recycled devices in 2015. That’s worth more than $40 million.
Take a look around your home. If you have old electronics lying around that haven’t been used for years – and most households do – take advantage of this community service provided by The Milford Bank to do some good for the environment and get rid of some old junk from your home in the process.