According to Fortune magazine, the number of computers and digital products discarded in the US each year is astounding:
206 million computer products
140 million phones
Only 15-20% of these are recycled.
Of the 50 states, at least 20 have an electronics recycling law and some others have voluntary recycling projects.
Because the metals and components from these electronics products mostly end up in landfill, some view this situation as a threat to the environment. Indeed. there has been a practice of dumping these discarded electronics in remote landfills, even shipping them to landfills in Africa.
Some see the discarded electronics as an opportunity. National and regional companies, such as Electronic Recyclers International, specialize in the “environmentally safe and socially responsible dismantling of electronic waste.” They claim to recycle all the materials and components without transporting them to junkyards.
As for cell phones and smart phones, You Renew accepts working units and refurbishes nonfunctional phones. The company offers cash to consumers who send used phones via their free shipping service.
There are several databases where companies and individuals can locate facilities nearby to recycle their electronic gadgets, cell phones and computers: The National Center for Electronics Recycling suggests locations across the US can be found through these organizations:
If there is no location nearby, some retailers and manufacturers accept computers and phones returned by mail.
Clearly, the number of computers, cell phones and handheld devices will continue to grow, consistent with the population, and the relentlessly increasing reliance by consumers, businesses, government and all organizations on electronic communication.
The need to responsibly manage outmoded and discarded electronic equipment should be addressed as an opportunity by consumers and businesses alike. Recycling obviously promotes a safer and cleaner environment by keeping the metals and chemical compounds in computers and cell phones out of the earth and, where possible, giving refurbished devices new life. As does the use of eco-friendly fire safety solutions in these electronics.