What is Electronic Pollution and How Do We Reduce It?

Electronic pollution is a newer concept, referring to the improper disposal of e-waste. Electronics are made with toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and when they’re not properly handled, they pose serious health risks and cause contamination of the soil, air, and groundwater.

E-waste is a broad term that refers to electronic devices and electrical appliances that have reached the end of their useful life. Common types of e-waste are cell phones, computers, televisions, refrigerators, and printers. As the world creates more and more technology, we continue to produce more and more e-waste, reinforcing a vicious cycle that’s toxic for our environment and health.

The Effects of Electronic Pollution

It is estimated that only 17.4% of all e-waste is formally collected. Many small electronics like phones, batteries, and remotes end up in household trash and end up in landfills. Larger devices can also end up in landfills or exported to landfills in developing countries if not collected properly.

When this happens, toxic materials like lead, zinc, nickel, barium, and chromium leak into the environment. Here are some of the effects these chemicals have on the environment and human health across the world:

Leaching Toxins

Infographic explaining the effects of electronic pollution on the world and our health .

E-waste breaks down when it’s in a landfill. It’s toxins seep into our groundwater while heat and sun exposure “cook” the waste and cause it to release into the air.

Loaded Landfills

Landfills are running out of room, and old electronics take up a lot of space. Recycling these old electronics can have a huge impact on slowing down how quickly we fill up landfills.

Increased Mining

Producing new electronics without recycling requires mining metals from Earth. This contributes to pollution, erosion, deforestation, and carbon emissions.

Adverse Health Effects

Exposure to e-waste has been connected with serious adverse health effects. Examples include respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, skin disease, and cancer.

Reducing Electronic Pollution

Thankfully, recycling and proper disposal significantly reduce the toxic effects of e-waste. If your old technology still works, you can also donate or re-sell it, preventing pollution through re-use. In addition, old and damaged electronics can be repaired, repurposed, or recycled. Here is how you can do your part to reduce electronic pollution:

Donate

You can give your devices a second life by donating your electronics to schools, libraries, and charities. Computers, phones, televisions, game systems, and other electronics all present great donation opportunities. In this situation, it’s important that you properly wipe all personal and confidential data from your devices to protect from potential data security and privacy concerns.

Trade or Sell

Some manufacturers offer trade-in or buy-back programs when upgrading your old phone, tablet, or other device. This is a convenient option if your device is in decent condition and not too old. However, these programs do come with restrictions and may not accept all devices. Similarly to donating, you will also want to properly wipe your devices to prevent data theft.

Recycle

Certified electronics recyclers can recover and reuse many materials from old electronics, including gold, platinum, copper, iron, and plastic. Proper recycling safely repurposes the materials to create a circular life cycle for electronics, saving natural resources, conserving energy, and reducing electronic pollution. Moreover, using a certified electronic recycler will ensure your personal and confidential data is safe as well.

Prevent Electronic Pollution with ShredTronics

ShredTronics makes it easy to find recycling services near you. Our experienced recyclers help preserve the environment and create a better future. Give us a call at (844) 648-4908 or fill out the form to learn more about our services and receive free quotes on electronics recycling. We thank you for doing your part in protecting the environment and combating e-waste.