How many old cell phones do you have languishing in a drawer? Here at Key West Video, we’re embarrassed to admit our number. Technology is advancing so rapidly, devices are outdated long before they’re worn out. There has to be a better way to deal with these e-waste relics, right?
How Much are We Throwing Away?
E-waste includes almost any item with circuitry or electrical components with power or battery supply. Everything from refrigerators to televisions to laptops to lamps constitutes e-waste if the item or its parts are thrown away. Most of the waste is made up of small equipment such as vacuum cleaners, microwaves, electric kettles, video cameras, and electronic toys. Here are a few facts and figures on global e-waste:
- In 2016, 44.7 million metric tonnes was generated
- the world threw away 6.1 kg of waste per human inhabitant in 2016
- projections predict we’ll pile up 50 million metric tonnes by 2020
- in 2017, only 67 countries had e-waste legislation
In Canada, the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) helps organize e-waste collection programs across the country. In Ontario, the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) project provides safe, secure recycling options. You have until the end of June 2020 to take advantage of OES, which has a handy postal code lookup and a list of what’s accepted at each location.
The OES project organizes events and drives where you can recycle everything from personal cell phones to the office copier. Your e-waste is chock full of valuable resources like gold, silver, and copper. Just make sure to prepare your electronics before disposal, which includes wiping drives and clearing SIM cards.
There are plenty of options when it comes to recycling. The Recycle My Electronics program looks after approximately 15.5 million devices a year. Consider how many laptops you’ve owned. Now think about this: recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent of the electricity used by 3,657 homes in a year.
Electronic Handling Fee
Chances are, you’ve paid an electronic handling fee at some point. An Environmental Handling Fees (EHF) is applied to the sale of all new electronic products. Money raised this way is used for the collection, transportation and responsible recycling of end-of-life electronics. The EHF fee is based on the actual cost to recycle the materials contained in the product. Depending on your purchase, this charge ranges from seven cents to twenty-eight dollars.
If you’re not going to sell, trade-in or recycle your old electronics, consider a donation. Search online for a charitable organization that will be happy to take a device off your hands and will even give you a receipt for tax deduction. What will they do with that old computer? If it’s still useful, that computer will go to someone who needs it. Otherwise, the onus is on the organization to handle their e-waste and make sure it gets properly recycled.
Reduce and Reuse
Some say recycling isn’t the answer when it comes to e-waste. It takes an enormous amount of energy to recycle this kind of trash. Gartner, a tech research company, estimated that 1.5 billion cell phones were bought in 2017. A United Nations study reported that 44.7 million tons of e-waste were discarded in 2016. Sites like this advocate for fixing old electronics instead of replacing them.
It’s hard to exercise self-control when new and updated products are being released all the time (we’re looking at you, Apple). Did you know that the average American keeps a cell phone for just eighteen months? The truth is that the majority of e-waste ends up in landfills. Furthermore, even if you responsibly dispose of that old phone, not all of it can be recycled. Consider hanging on to an old model longer if you can.
As a shop that relies on electronics, it’s important for Key West Video to be environmentally aware. Let’s make a deal? We’ll reduce, reuse and recycle our e-waste if you do!