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E-Waste: What It Is, and What It Means to Your Business

April 3, 2014

When people think of hazardous business waste, they often think of hazardous materials leaking into our water supply and harming plants, animals, humans, and the environment in general. While this scenario unfolds in countless settings all over the world, there’s another type of waste that many people–even businesses–don’t consider: Electronic waste.

Commonly referred to as e-waste, this branch of waste refers to discarded electrical devices such as computers, printers, fax machines, televisions, cell phones, etc., that are defective, obsolete or no longer in use. Unbeknownst to many, these electronics typically contain a wide array of contaminants, including lead, mercury, and lesser-known elements like cadmium and beryllium. These elements are usually present on cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which are found on computer monitors, television sets, and basically anything with a screen.

Needless to say, your office is likely full of them.

These materials must be managed carefully and with caution. It is imperative that businesses dispose of e-waste responsibly so that their employees–not to mention their communities–avoid unsafe exposure to harmful contaminants.

Unfortunately, the United States is one of the world’s leading e-waste producers. Even worse? Despite comprising just two percent of American landfills, e-waste is responsible for roughly 70 percent of America’s toxic waste–making it a huge threat to our health.

And it’s not just a stateside threat, either. While many companies safely dispose of e-waste, others ship theirs to developing countries–particularly in Asia and Africa–to be burned, buried, or chemically dissolved. Less than 20 percent of discarded electronics are actually sent to recyclers.

Hazardous Waste Experts finds these numbers and practices unacceptable and can provide you with safer, more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Take recycling. How much of a difference can this make? According to the EPA, a large one. Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to electricity that is needed to power more than 3,500 homes for an entire year.

Then there’s the matter of waste itself. Before throwing those office laptops away, ask yourself a couple of key questions:

  • Is the computer beyond repair or does it simply need a new part?
  • Is a new computer necessary, or would a simply upgrading the hardware or software do the trick?
  • If a new purchase is necessary, could the old computers be donated?

Even if you must get rid of the computers–or any electronic device–it’s always better to recycle them than throw them away. Regardless of which route you go, remember to remove any and all batteries from your electronics, as they may need to be recycled separately.

Contact Hazardous Waste Experts for more tips on how to reduce and recycle e-waste safely and effectively. Call us today at 800-936-2311.

Photo Credit: Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak via Compfight cc

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.