Reduce, reuse, and recycle – the three main aspects of conservation that holds true much of the world’s resources. It goes without saying that these are some of the most essential practices for controlling waste and promoting a sustainable future; however, only the last one is the most effective when reducing e-waste. You can’t reduce the world’s need for technology, neither can you reuse it. Hence, recycling is the only alternative left that has left a considerable impact. Here’s why recycling electronic waste is beneficial for our environment and, in turn, our future.
1. Cuts Down on Pollution
Generally speaking, recycling aims to cut down the pollutants entering the environment. When it comes to e-waste, there is an expansive list of pollutants that impose detrimental effects on our surrounding, like:
- Heavy Metals – These include mercury, antimony, lead, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, indium, nickel, and thallium. They have the potential to leach into the subsoil and enter our food chain. This may result in heavy metal poisoning, cancer, and loss of ecological diversity.
- Plastics – Plastics threaten the landscape and marine life. It takes hundreds of years for plastics to degrade. Their subsequent erosion leads to the formation of microplastics that threaten marine life by accumulating in their stomachs. Moreover, the burning of plastics releases noxious and greenhouse gases that pollute the air and contribute to climate change.
2. Decreases Operational Costs
Recycling not only aids the public, but also the manufacturer as well. Acquiring new materials for manufacturing electronic parts like steel for the body, copper for wires, silicon for integrated circuits (ICs), solder for the connections, and passive components like resistors, inductors, and capacitors can be an expensive ordeal. Recycling old parts saves on these costs, especially those for expensive materials like gold and ICs.
3. Creates More Jobs
From collection to dismantling to processing, recycling is a chain of processes that are interlinked with each other. Though automation and public initiatives seek to bolster them further, the watchful eyes of human beings are still necessary for quality control and ensuring standard practices are followed. Plus, it keeps regulatory bodies and researchers on their toes for coming up with novel ways of finding the solution to recycling. Ultimately, recycling electronic waste benefits the economy and keeps the workforce productive.
4. Reduces Dependence on Mining
Mining is one of the topmost contributors to pollution and deforestation. Vast swaths of land are completely deformed during mining, plus the uncontrolled chemical run-off threatens the agricultural and ecological life surrounding them. By recycling electronic waste, one can expect a reduced burden on mining for essential resources, like the heavy metals described above, reducing its negative impact on the environment and introducing a cyclical economy.
According to the BBC, e-waste is becoming a pressing problem in many countries throughout the world. Currently, it is largely ignored by major governments as they do not have to deal with it. It’s the third world countries where it ends up in. It can be expected that regulatory authorities may soon start excising control over the disposal of waste and may even offer incentives for recycling electronic waste.