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How to Discard E-Waste Sustainably

A picture of a trash bin filled with electronics


Why Is E-Waste A Big Deal?

E-waste, or electronic waste, is a big concern in our modern digital world. As the number of tech gadgets we have increases, the amount of electronic waste we generate also increases. The impact of e-waste on the environment is significant and is a conversation to be had. In this guide, we will explore what e-waste is and most importantly, how to dispose of it properly and sustainably.

huge pile of old electronics

What Is E-Waste?

E-waste refers to any electronic device that is no longer in use and ready to be trashed. This includes everything from smartphones and laptops to TVs and kitchen appliances. As technology evolves, devices become outdated quickly. Just think about how many iPhones you've gotten ridden of in the span of your life. According to an article by TonerBuzz, the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019. This number is projected to grow to a whopping 74.7 million metric tons by 2030.

One of the main issues with e-waste is the toxic materials in these devices. Electronic devices can contain a range of hazardous materials, including lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and flame retardants. If these materials are not disposed of properly, they can have huge environmental and health impacts. For example, e-waste that is incinerated or sent to landfills can contaminate the soil, groundwater, and air. This affects local ecosystems and poses a risk to human and animal health. In addition, when e-waste is processed without regulations, workers can be exposed to these hazardous materials, leading to serious health problems. 

According to a report by the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, only 15% of global e-waste in 2017 was properly recycled. That’s a lot of waste in the wrong place! 

What Are the Best Ways to Dispose of E-Waste?

When it comes to discarding e-waste, you have a few options:

Recycling e-waste is important to avoid impacting the environment. It can also help recover valuable materials like metals, glass, and plastics, which can be reused in the production of new electronics. Recycling also helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. Many manufacturers and retailers have established take-back programs to help consumers dispose of their e-waste responsibly. These programs allow people to drop off their old electronics at designated collection points, where they can be recycled or refurbished. 

Many communities also have e-waste recycling programs in place, where you can drop off your old electronics at your local recycling center. These programs can include curbside collection or drop-off events for e-waste, which provide convenient ways for residents to dispose of their old electronics. Some cities also have e-waste recycling facilities that accept a wide range of electronics. 

Your city or county may have an e-waste recycling program or schedule collection events. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a search tool where you can find local recycling options.

Dumpster rental is a great option for anyone looking to dispose of e-waste. Many dumpster rental companies now offer e-waste pickup, where they’ll come and collect your old electronics and dispose of them. This option is convenient, efficient, and an easy way to recycle your waste. When using a dumpster to recycle e-waste, it's important to follow certain guidelines. First, make sure you're only disposing of accepted e-waste items in the dumpster. This can vary depending on your location, but generally accepted items include computers, laptops, printers, scanners, and televisions. Once your e-waste is in the dumpster, the waste management company will take care of the rest. 

By using a dumpster for e-waste recycling, you can help reduce the amount of electronic waste that ends up in landfills or other unsafe disposal sites while also ensuring that reusable materials are recovered. You can check the e-Stewards website to find a list of certified companies in your area or you can also check with your local government for recommendations on certified e-waste disposal companies.

Upcycling e-waste is a creative and innovative way of reusing electronic devices that are no longer working. Upcycling involves taking apart old electronics and using the pieces to create something new and useful. Upcycling can reduce the amount of e-waste in landfills and help preserve natural resources. It is also a fun and creative way to handle old devices. 

There are lots of ways to upcycle e-waste! One way is to turn old electronics into artistic pieces or functional items. For example, you can transform an old computer monitor into a quirky fish tank or a retro TV set into a stylish pet bed. Another option is to take working parts from broken devices and use them in other electronics. This includes repurposing circuit boards, wires, and components into DIY robots, instruments, and more. Upcycling e-waste reduces waste and unleashes creativity at the same time.

There are many guides and tutorials available online. Websites like Instructables show you different ways to repurpose or upcycle old electronics. With a little creativity, you might be able to turn your old e-waste into something new and useful! 

 Another way to deal with your old electronics is to sell or donate them. You can donate old working electronics to organizations that fix and distribute them to people in need. You can even sell or trade your e-waste online to earn some money. Websites like eBay and Craigslist are great places to sell old computers, laptops, and other electronics. If the devices are still working, you can also donate them to schools, non-profit organizations, or shelters. Many charities such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army accept electronic donations, and there are also organizations like the National Cristina Foundation that donate computers to individuals with disabilities. Before you donate, check with the organization and make sure they accept the item.

Why Is It Important To Get Rid of E-Waste Sustainably?

The environmental impact of e-waste is big. The toxic materials in e-waste like lead, mercury, and cadmium can harm the environment and the health of living things when discarded improperly. These chemicals can cause a number of health issues in the heart and lungs

Another impact of e-waste is the release of greenhouse gases when devices are incinerated. According to the University of California Irvine, greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere from electronic devices increased by 53 percent between 2014 and 2020. There were 580 metric tons of carbon dioxide released in 2020 alone. 

Person holding iphone over laptop

Should I Remove Personal Data From Devices Before Recycling?

When disposing of e-waste, it is important to get rid of any personal data that may still be stored on the device. Wipe all data from any devices before discarding them, as it could be potentially dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands.

If you're planning to dispose of a device that contains personal information like a computer or smartphone, there are several steps you should take to remove that data. First, back up any important files or data you want to keep. Second, use data destruction software to wipe the device of any remaining data. Lastly, perform a factory reset on the device to wipe all data from the internal storage. It's also a good idea to physically destroy the hard drive if possible.

You Can Help Save The Planet

Properly disposing of e-waste is an important step in protecting the environment. The toxic materials found in electronic devices can harm ecosystems and threaten wildlife. The greenhouse gases released during the incineration of e-waste also contribute to this impact. However, by following the steps listed above, we can help to protect natural resources and reduce the number of toxic materials that end up in landfills. By properly researching disposal options, you can feel confident that you’re getting rid of your e-waste the right way.

By following these suggestions, you ensure that your old electronics are disposed of responsibly and might even discover that your “trash” could be someone else’s treasure! By taking these steps to sustainably get rid of electronics, we can all have a positive impact on the environment and work towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Sourgum Waste celebrates planting a tree for every dumpster rented

With Sourgum Waste You Make a Difference

When you rent a dumpster from us, you not only get great service and pricing, but you also make a positive impact on the planet. For every dumpster rented through Sourgum, we make a donation to One Tree Planted , an organization that specializes in reforestation efforts. Every order = one tree planted. Help us heal the planet one tree at a time and order your roll-off dumpster rental today!
Trees planted so far: 32,923