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The Platform

Insights from our global team of experts in eMaterials value optimization

3 tips to reduce personal eWaste

By Jon LaPere, Sr. Sales and Business Development Manager

Americans throw away or recycle hundreds of thousands of electronics products daily. Starting now you can help reduce the waste.

It’s no secret that we consumers rely heavily on our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions every day. Mix in wearable technology, such as Fitbit health trackers, Samsung Gear, Apple watches, and now virtual reality products — and it becomes obvious we live in highly technologically advanced age! Speaking solely about Americans, who notoriously want the “latest and greatest” devices as soon as they become available (notice the line recently at your local Apple store) — all the use of technology begs the question, Where do all of the old devices go?

According to the EPA report (summary here), Americans tend to create eWaste (any electronic or electrical component that is either thrown away or recycled). Through 2009, Americans reportedly either threw away or recycled 142,000 cell phones and over 416,000 televisions … each and every day!

These numbers are startling, and what’s worse, the figure is growing exponentially. Our question is obvious: “Okay, but what am I supposed to do about it?”

Cost-effective steps to reducing eWaste

The answer is straightforward and we can begin to address it immediately: There are cost-effective steps each of us can take to chip in and help reduce the amount of eWaste that ends up in our landfills and poisons our environment. Here is what you can do to help:

1:  Update and upgrade.

  • Before you decide to go out and buy the most recent computer with all the bells and whistles, update and upgrade your current system. Many computers can have memory and performance-enhancing features added to them. And deleting or zipping information can free up hard drive space.

2:  Do you really need that new phone?

  • We don’t buy cell phones the way we used to. It used to be that you picked your carrier, signed a two-year contract, and paid up to $200 for the latest and greatest phones available. Back then the carriers were subsidizing the costs of the phones; but they found out that it wasn’t nearly as profitable as having the customers pay for their own phones! Now when you go the carrier, you purchase your phone at a monthly rate of $20 to $35 dollars per month, and then you pay for the service on top of that. The good news for the consumer is that after two years, you own the phone. With the saturation of the smartphone market, there really aren’t too many advancements that will astound you from year to year. Americans used to hold onto their phones an average of 12 to 18 months. With the new way of buying phones, many more consumers are willing to do 24 months and beyond!

3:  Find a recycler near you.

  • Should you find yourself truly in need of letting go of your current electronics products, discover where your local recyclers are located. Best Buy® and Staples® accept eWaste. You might also check out the website http://e-stewards.org/ and select the “Find a Recycler” tab. You can also use the EPA website to find the information you need: https://www.epa.gov/recycle.

Electronic waste isn’t going away and will continue to be an issue for our and future generations. If we all do the small things to pitch in and help, it will have a tremendous impact for our environment (and our pocketbooks, too)!

Featured photo is used under a Creative Commons license. Photographer: Graeme Paterson

Jon LaPere

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