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What Is and What Do You Do With E-Waste?

Updated on February 27, 2018
Lady Lorelei profile image

Mother of two girls & grandmother to 6. Writing is my hobby, my work, my play, & my passion. I have enjoyed writing online since March 2007.

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Welcome To The E-Waste Era

E-waste, or electronic waste as it more commonly known, is fast becoming one of the largest disposal problems for our generation. This enormous influx of potentially toxic waste into landfills has governments scrambling for a solution.

Used T.V.s, stereos, tape decks, radios, computers, printers, fax machines, answering machines, ipods, cell phones, CD players, the list virtually never ending, and tons of this electronic waste are becoming new E-Waste daily.

We are a generation in love with our abundance of new, and constantly improving computers, technological products, cell phones, and other electronic gadgetry. As the new stock hits store shelves, it has no shortage of willing buyers ready to take it home, but it is the outmoded and tossed aside products that have governments around the world concerned. It's piling up.

Welcome to the electronic age, where even garbage comes with a new and more distinguished title, welcome to the "e-waste" era.

What do you do with your used electronics?

Do you reduce, reuse, or recycle your E-Waste?

See results

Technology has a Tendency to Update at a Very Rapid Pace.

Used computer parts.
Used computer parts. | Source

So What Exactly Is E-Waste?

If you haven't heard the term before then get prepared because you will definitely be hearing a lot about it in the future.

Electronic waste is a term that has come sharply into focus in our current electronic world. Ewaste is a term which has come to represent any and all types of electronic equipment that is near to ending, or is ending, it's useful life span.

These out-dated electronics are quickly becoming any one of a number of computers, telephones, televisions, VCR's, stereos, i-pods, fax machines, or some such other similar electronic product that now needs to be disposed of. In essence it has become garbage, refuse, waste, trash or whatever other term that you would prefer to refer to it as.

Scientifically these items are now officially referred to as "electronic waste" or as it is more commonly known "e-waste". We are an era that over the past number of years has been, and is still, enticed by an ever evolving supply of electronic gizmo's and gadgets.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and the newest technology today is quickly outmoded as newer and even more advanced improvements to current electronics advance to the forward front. These new and improved products hit the shelves, and our old outdated or worn out electronics become "e-waste", and as such, need to be disposed of.

To recycle your E-waste items check for a listing of U.S. organizations or businesses that recycle or reuse electronics.

Electronic Waste Wrapped in Preparation for Transport

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Why Can't it Be Thrown Out Along With My Other Garbage?

The sheer number of electronic waste products that are being tossed into the local landfills is creating an environmental nightmare and has governments and environmentalists alike searching for new methods of recycling this ever growing pile of electronic waste. To add to the nightmare is the fact that a large number of these electronics contain hazardous waste materials and there are just not a lot of recycling programs currently in place to deal with this new form of garbage.

The E-Waste problem came to the forefront so quickly that not a lot of recycling programs at first considered it to be a potential problem. For this reason not many programs were in place to deal with this new form of waste material.

So without recycling centers in place to dispose of their electronic waste safely people simply threw it away with their other trash and these products began filling up the local landfills at an alarming rate.

Suddenly it became glaringly clear that recycling programs were desperately needed. They had to be created immediately to help put a stop to this new environmental nightmare. Public Education programs needed to be put in place. The sheer magnitude of this waste that was so rapidly being created was a new environmental nightmare. People needed to be made aware of the necessity of properly and responsibly disposing of this new form of waste.

Clean Your Computer Hard Drive Before Recycling it

Insure that your data is not accidentally shared
Insure that your data is not accidentally shared | Source

Electronic waste at the recycling center.

Computer Phone Tablet Printer and Laptop it all Adds up

How Often do You Replace Your Phone?

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Recycling just makes good common sense.

So what solutions have governments come up with for recycling all this electronic waste? Currently it would appear that the three basic rules of recycling are as important here as they are in all areas of waste management. Reduce - Reuse - Recycle your electronic waste.

The basic reduce - reuse - recycle rules are:

Reduce the amount of waste that you produce by purchasing products with less packaging or that are re-usable or long lasting. Pack your groceries in cloth bags rather than the plastic disposable variety.

Reuse items. Use glass jars to store food in, as drinking glasses, or paint them to use as decorative containers for buttons, paperclips or other small household items. Cardboard boxes can be broken down for easy storage till they are needed again.

Old shirts can be cut into rags and the buttons and zippers stored for later use. If you do not have a use for items, donate them to local charities, or to someone else that you feel might have a use for them.

Recycle whenever possible. Compost your vegetable and yard waste material. Recycle your tin cans, glass, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, plastics, ink cartridges, batteries and all other items that programs are in place to accept.

Reduce the amount of waste that you create. If your electronics article is still in good working order, you can consider passing it along to someone else who could use it, or donating it to a local charity or thrift store. If it is no longer in working order than recycle it or store it until such a time as your community offers an "e-waste" recycling center.

© 2008 Lorelei Cohen

Have do You Recycle?

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    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 

      4 years ago

      I've done this, although they make it difficult where I am (Corona, California). An office fairly far away is open just a few hours three days per week and you have to make an appointment.

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 

      4 years ago

      Our community has E-waste drives every few weeks... you can drive up, drop off all electronics and they are trucked off for recycling (presumably).

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      @miaponzo: I saw a show on the old computer screen monitors and they are especially toxic to the environment. Problem is that the government still don't really know how to dispose of them in a way that won't hurt the environment.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      @Margot_C: I recycle, compost, and gift away as many items as possible too. It horrifies me to see the amount of recyclable material that some companies throw in the trash each year. Most of which could definitely be recycled.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      @moonlitta: In Canada we had a fridge recycling program that ran. Old fridges have something in them which when released into the atmosphere damages the ozone layer so they were trying to remove as many as possible. It sure helped out.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 

      5 years ago

      I happen to think not exactly about e-waste... but I've got a big problem with old laundry machines and fridges- it's quite common to see one abandoned in the yard of a house, collecting rust and dirt - and I've got two of them home, too. Actually they belong to my landlord and he said he'd take them away- and I still wait...:)

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: There is gold in old computers I have heard as well. Recycling really does make cents lol.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      @Margot_C: I used to love doing up crafts from items I had picked up from the used stores. I especially loved old bits and pieces of wallpaper as I would use it for origami projects and creating small gift boxes.

    • profile image

      Margot_C 

      5 years ago

      I hate sending stuff to the landfill, e-waste or non-e-waste. I like to freecycle (donate or give away) as much as I can. Repurposing stuff is great, too, if you're creative enough.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 

      5 years ago

      I always give them away or sell them.. so I don't know what happens to them after that... but boy, that is something to think about! E-waste... yes, a real problem, if not dealt with the right way. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I recently learned about all the gold parts used in cell phones. I watched a video on YouTube about it and how to take them apart. Rather than give my old cell phones away to be recycled, I'll mine the gold. :)

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 

      6 years ago

      Yes - we've just recycled an extremely old computer through a local scheme. And (on a related topic) local printer toner shops have bins to recycle old printer catridges, which is great. Your lens is immensely important, I've listed it on mine: https://hubpages.com/politics/naples-italy-the-tra... .

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Some of my e-waste was given away, but most of it was recycled. Fortunately, the transfer station in my town collects e-waste and recycles it. E-waste is becoming a big problem. We need to address this. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Usually I've passed them on to someone who can use them but now even Goodwill won't take electronics often because they get stuck with a lot of junk that doesn't work. I was surprised to see this isn't a brand new article because it sure is timely in this age of forever advancing electronics. One nice way is for things like cell phones and computers is that they are often being refurbished for use by abused women as well as children and probably others I haven't heard about. I sure wouldn't mind inheriting someone's old Apple anything!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Ironically, it takes a great lot of time and energy for the e-waste to degenerate naturally. Human beings need to learn to make more environmental friendly products. Very useful article.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @Mihaela Vrban: I hope so too. The problem of waste management is a global issue which affects us all.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @dahlia369: Recycling makes a tremendous difference in the environment. With so many new issues I have to wonder if the reduce-reuse-recycle program is still as actively taught to our children as it was in the past.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @sunworld lm: I will be purchasing a new computer shortly and just hauled my old computer waste over to our local electronic recycling center rather than to a land fill. My part for aiding in the reduction of ewaste in the landfills ;)

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Just be sure that you remove all personal data from your computer or cell phone before you recycle it into a waste management system.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @KimGiancaterino: I saw on the news last night that some communities are now beginning to include small appliances in their electronic waste disposal programs. Great news because toasters, blenders, irons, etc really add up too.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      8 years ago

      Great topic. I've been trying to get rid of my old laptop for years. It's just taking up space in the closet. Thanks for the resources.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for writing about this issue. Actually I was totally unaware about E-Waste thanks for educating us and I will try to opt the suggestions.

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    • Abseaz LM profile image

      Abseaz LM 

      8 years ago

      Very thought provoking info!

    • sunworld lm profile image

      sunworld lm 

      9 years ago

      I was unaware of the issue of e-waste. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. 5 *

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 

      9 years ago

      Great topic, nice lens - Welcome to Healthy Living group

    • Life With Joanne profile image

      Life With Joanne 

      9 years ago

      Hello! Thank you for joining the Technology Lens Group. We'll feature a different lens each week and I'll stop back in to let you know when yours has been chosen. I gave you a five star rating.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      9 years ago from Croatia

      Interesting! We still don't have recycling for computer parts organized in Croatia! Hopefully, that will be taken care of in close future!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      10 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Welcome to the Living the Green Organic Lifestyle Group.

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