When you take a moment to really think about how much e-waste is being dumped into our landfills on a daily basis, it reiterates the importance of having a reduce, reuse, and recycle policy in place within your business. According to a study by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, in 2010, Americans disposed of 384 million units of e-waste which included computers, monitors, mobile devices, televisions, hard copy devices, and more. Of that total, less than 74 million units were actually recycled properly for an overall recycling rate of just 19%. The remaining 310 million units ended up in our landfills where their toxic components will eventually break down and leak into the soil and our waterways.
By implementing a few easy changes in how your company treats its business waste, you can make a positive impact that will help the environment. Here are a few valuable tips that can help your business reduce, reuse, and recycle.
New technology is constantly being introduced and the devices you purchase this year probably won’t be state-of-the-art by the end of the year – but that doesn’t mean they’re not still functional. Treat your electronic devices with respect and take good care of them and they will usually last for years. Not only will your business be reducing the amount of e-waste it produces, but imagine how much money it will save by not replacing fully-functional equipment every time a new version is released.
Another tip to help reduce your business e-waste is to have your electronic devices repaired instead of outright replacing them. In most cases, a device will have just one defective component and instead of having it repaired, the business owner will simply replace it with a new one. By repairing or replacing the faulty component, you can save the cost of buying a brand new device and help reduce your e-waste production.
Additional tips to reduce e-waste include:
Bleeding-edge computer equipment is often essential to a company’s performance, but not every department needs the latest generation of technology. Instead of replacing all of the company’s computers, replace only the ones that need it in order to maintain the business’s performance and then reuse the replaced equipment in another part of the business that doesn’t require such high-end equipment. By doing this, your e-waste will only consist of equipment that truly needs to be replaced.
Even if you have equipment that needs to be replaced, you have alternatives other than trashing the equipment. You can use the services of a computer liquidation company and sell the unused computer and networking equipment for a return on your investment.
The most effective way to reduce your business e-waste production is to use the services of a professional e-waste recycling and disposal firm. These businesses disassemble the components to safely remove the toxic materials and then dispose of the excess in an environmentally-responsible way.
While the federal government allows alkaline batteries to be disposed of in the trash, other types like Lithium Ion, Ni-cad, lead acid, silver oxide, nickel metal hydride, and button batteries (like those used in hearing aids and watches) need to be professionally recycled.
How much of an impact can recycling e-waste have? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one million cell phones will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 33 cars from the road for a full year. Consider that in 2010, 135 million mobile devices went un-recycled and then imagine how much emissions could have been eliminated if they were.
In today’s world, a business needs to have an effective reduce, reuse, recycle policy in place or it could face serious fines and penalties if it is discovered that the business is generating e-waste that is not being recycled or disposed of properly. Do your research and find a professional e-waste recycling firm near your business and start building a relationship with them.
Make sure the company who handles your e-waste has a no-landfills policy and that they handle the e-waste properly. Using a company that exports the toxic materials to China or Africa could bring severe legal action against your business, so choose a company that is ISO 14001 certified, a member of NAID, and certified as an e-Stewards Enterprise to help ensure your e-waste is recycled properly.