By Lynn Viesti Berube
Over the past decade, we’ve watched the world’s adoption of new technology grow exponentially, to a point where there are more mobile devices than people on the planet. We’re also seeing the rate at which electronics are replaced increase, driven by affordability, shorter lifespans, and a desire to have the very latest and greatest products.
While the continued investment in new technology may be good for the economy, it’s also created a massive amount of electronic waste (e-waste). Americans alone generated almost 12 million tons of electronic waste in 2014, including more than 150 million cell phones and almost 52,000 computers every year according to the EPA. But global e-recycling rates are only around 20 percent, which means the majority of these electronics were either incinerated, dumped into massive landfills releasing pollutants into the environment, or collect dust in homes.
Aside from the impact on waste management, the environment, and health issues, recycling electronics provides a rich source of raw materials. The EPA also says that every one million recycled cell phones can produce 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. In addition, recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 homes per year.
When it’s time to recycle your cell phones or other electronics, first make sure you delete all personal information, followed by a factory reset, after taking out any removable storage cards. You should also remove any batteries, as those should be recycled separately. You should also make sure you are using a reliable recycling service that certifies data destruction and recycles 100% of the e-waste they collect through legitimate facilities.
Just as recycled electronics can be used for materials for new products, recycled paper also have many applications. The cleaned and processed paper is used to produce many products we use every day, including toilet paper, school writing paper, masking tape, coffee filters, and many more. Even documents with personal information can be recycled, provided they are shredded first.
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.
But, it’s hard to change old habits, and one of the key drivers in the rate of e-recycling is providing a convenient way for people to get rid of their old devices. In 2007, Connecticut was one of the first states to adopt an electronics recycling law, making it easier for residents to dispose of their old electronics.
This Saturday, June 23, The Milford Bank will be sponsoring a Shred & Electronics Recycling Event at 119 High Street, Milford, CT, from 10:00am-1:00pm (or until the truck fills up.) Electronics recycling is free for everyone; document shredding if free for all customers of The Milford Bank, with a $5 fee for everyone else. All funds collected will be donated to Milford Food2Kids.