By Juan Carlos Villatoro
Trash it. It’s easy to turn those two words into your company’s policy on discarding unwanted or outdated electronics. And who’s to blame you? Few states have strictly enforced (or any) laws that require companies or individuals to recycle or properly dispose of unwanted electronics. And that’s not to mention the common sentiments that recycling takes more time or costs more money.
Most people have heard that electronics can pose some risk to the environment or could possibly be put to better use, but few companies have invested the time to research alternative methods of disposing of unwanted electronics because they haven’t had much incentive to do so. But recent advancements in technology and the cost of rare metals have opened up the door for more serious conversations about the business benefits of recycling electronics. Below are a few reasons why responsible, forward-thinking companies can win big by properly disposing of their e-waste.
Improper Electronics Disposal Could Be Illegal
Many states have imposed bans on improper disposal of certain electronics devices due to potentially harmful effects on the environment as components break down in landfills. Effective in 2015, New York has made it illegal for companies and individuals to dispose of certain used electronics through traditional disposal methods. California was the first state to pass a ban on televisions and monitors (CRTs) in 2001. Since then, desktop computers, printers, flat-panel screens, cell phones, and several other devices have been banned from improper disposal in California.
Twenty-five additional states have imposed bans on all or some electronics disposal practices with more legislation in discussion around the United States, according to the Electronics Takeback Coalition. Fines and possible criminal charges may be imposed upon individual or corporate violators. Check to see if your state is one of the many that have imposed bans on trashing used electronics. Even if it is “legal” to simply throw away used electronics through traditional disposal methods, companies will only benefit from implementing recycling programs now.
Plus, there is no harm in promoting an eco-friendly internal and external message to enhance your company’s community profile through electronics recycling programs. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, “E-waste contains toxic and hazardous materials including mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, chromium, and chemical flame retardants, which have the potential to leach into our soil and water.”
Your electronics recycling program could help you connect with your environmentally conscious prospects and customers.
Data Can Be Stolen From Trashed Electronics
Ever been to Ghana or China? According to Gizmodo, chances are, your old computers have. Millions upon millions of used electronics units, from cell phones to personal computers, are shipped to other countries’ landfills from the United States. Responsible companies shred important documents before they hit the trash. In the same way, responsible companies must protect their digitized data before it goes to a landfill. The best way to do that is to make sure that your used electronics don’t end up in a landfill in the first place.
Often times, when electronics hit landfills, they are not even processed or refurbished…they are just waste. Fortunately, electronics recycling is becoming a more common practice and is actually being done, rather than simply serving as guise for irresponsible disposal on a massive scale. Now is a great time to start recycling your electronics with responsible recycling services because, among many other reasons, it keeps your data safe.
So here’s what you do.
Step 1: Destroy your hard drive.
Step 2: Recycle the electronic components.
There are companies that provide turn-key data protection and recycling services, making it extremely easy for companies to responsibly protect their company, protect the environment, and simply declutter the world.
Old Electronics Can Be Sold
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. There are a whole host of ways this can mean new revenue for your company through relationships with electronics recyclers. In the same way that used car parts retain some value, used computer, television, and cell phone parts are worth real money. For example, companies like Urban Mining and other responsible recyclers can help you make more money and safely get rid of your unwanted electronics. There is no one-size-fits-all recycling/selling relationship between companies and recyclers. Do some research and you’ll likely find a solution that meets your company’s specific needs.
Juan Carlos Villatoro is the founder of Urban Mining. His primary focus is identifying new markets and corporate partners as well as developing and improving techniques for repurposing electronic and plastic waste. Ultimately, his vision is that the company becomes a leader in ethical recycling practices, pushing the boundaries of what is possible, to ensure a safer more sustainable world for future generations.