The average American throws away 44 pounds of electronic waste a year–that’s 100 iPhones worth of waste! Furthermore, only about 12.5% of electronic waste is recycled each year. Even though these numbers are staggering, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the future of electronic recycling. Here are four things you should know. 

electronics at a recycling plant in a pile

1. E-Waste Is Not The Same Thing As E-Scrap

Oftentimes electronic waste and electronic scrap are lumped together under electronic recycling as if the terms are interchangeable. However, this is certainly not the case! While e-waste encompasses the old electronics thrown away to the landfill, e-scrap is electronics that are properly dropped off at a recycling facility. And you don’t need to search too hard to find a facility, either. Some electronics stores like Best Buy will accept your old equipment. These scraps have immense value, whether they are recycled into raw materials or reused into new electronics. Recycling your electronics sustainably is extremely important especially when you consider how detrimental landfills are to the environment, affecting global warming from harmful greenhouse gases.

2. E-Scrap Can Be Recycled Into Raw Materials 

Once you give your electronics to an electronic recycling facility, some are deemed too old or broken for reuse and are stripped for raw material. This demanufacturing process begins with the dismantling of computers, mobile devices, TVs, and other electronics. This involves the breakdown and separation of materials like metals, circuit boards, batteries, and hard drives. After demanufacturing, machines shred various materials to reduce their size and to enable further separation to extract metals and plastics. Once the products are dismantled and shredded, their parts are packaged and labeled to ensure safe shipping. These commodities then become the raw materials that can be used in the manufacturing of new products.

3. You Can Buy Recycled Electronics

Many recycled electronics actually just need a bit of TLC to make them candidates for reuse (truly proving that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!). This is done by extracting and replacing parts if needed, running numerous tests to guarantee that the machine is 100% working, and completely wiping their memory to ensure data privacy. Once these products are completely repaired and refurbished, they are put online for resale. This is an amazing way to shop sustainably for high-quality and affordable electronic products! pile of old electronics ready for reuse and resale

4. Electronic Recycling Plays A Crucial Role In Our Future

More electronics are sold each year, which means more electronics need to be recycled. In fact, the United Nations estimates that global e-waste volumes could increase by as much as 39% to 74.7 million tons a year by 2030. With this in mind, sustainable e-recycling is more important than ever, and the world is beginning to realize this. The medals from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were even made entirely from recycled electronics. 

Furthermore, the increasing popularity of electric vehicles will eventually lead to the need to sustainably recycle these cars. The parts of these cars are bigger and more complex than what is found in smaller electronics. Luckily, with the infrastructure already in place to recycle batteries from small electronics, e-recycling companies like Regency feel that they are up for the challenge. 

To watch electronics get recycled in action, stream Tomorrow World Today’s “The Science Behind Electronics Recycling” on SCIGo and Discovery GO.

Discover the World of Innovation, and uncover how to make your car eco-friendly, how recycled art turns trash into treasure, and how to make game controllers.

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