3 Barriers to Better Electronic Waste Recycling (and How to Solve them)
An increasing number of people in the United States are turning to electronic waste recycling, but this does not mean it’s always an easy matter.
Unknown to many, many a vendor in the business practice dark magic. Usually, you find a good number of them sending their ‘recycled’ equipment for burial in tech graveyards in some developing country, or exploiting loopholes in the big-name e-waste certifications to mask their distasteful practices.
But how can you tell if the e waste recycling company you’re dealing with will indeed recycle your retired assets in a safe and legal fashion? That’s the tricky part. Responsible recycling of e-waste does take up a lot of research and time, you see, something that’s increasingly becoming endangered in this fast life we lead nowadays. But one simple solution would be to partner with vendors who do business above board.
Following are three common barriers to efficient e recycling we are facing today.
The anatomy of most computers and other electronic devices is in such a way that it’s easy to dismantle and reassemble for repair. At least that’s what we’ve been used to. More recently, however, most big-name electronic manufacturers are building devices (phones, laptops, desktops) that are difficult to take apart, and even harder to reassemble.
In turn, this has spawned a culture where broken or malfunctioning electronics are no longer repaired but rather, pushed to the side and replacements brought in.
You can bet this has created a serious problem, with roughly 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste being disposed globally every year. Apparently, most of the e-waste is not even waste. Rather, they are readily marketable electronic components either for reuse or recycling.
Solution: One way to solve this conundrum would involve electronics manufacturers creating equipment that can be repaired instead of replacing. This would go a long way in curbing the increasing truckloads of electronics finding their way into the landfills. Failure to and the issue will only exacerbate.
Turning your e waste for recycling every time can be somewhat of an expensive business model, truth be told. Electronic assets rapidly depreciate in value, and e recyclers often find it more costly to recycle some assets compared to what they are worth when it comes to some assets.
Solution: One solution with regard to the issue of cost would be for the recycling firms to charge by say, per piece of individual equipment they take in, weight, or number of pallets. The second solution would be to exercise the buy-back clause or donate the equipment, the cost (recycling or reuse) of which mostly rests upon the receiver.
You can also throw in a lack of awareness among the obstacles to better e-waste management. Despite recycling e-waste becoming more important by the day (with most states today even having e waste disposal laws in place to regulate things to some extent), some of those responsible for general asset recovery in many companies seem to have forgotten that the toxic materials found in electronics can be damaging to the environment.
Solution: This is not the easiest to implement as it would call for governments (federal, state, local) to work together with equipment manufacturers (and electronics disposal companies) to raise awareness about the importance of working with a responsible electronics recycler. But it can be done.
These three issues are the biggest predicaments facing the e-waste recycling industry today. By working together though, you can bet we can solve them and work towards a greener tomorrow.
Isn’t that what we all want?