What to do with E waste?

What to do with E waste?

E waste is a relatively new term that has been floated around in the past decade, and is used to describe any electronic that is nearing or has reached the end of its lifecycle.  Personally, recycling electronics has always been tough.  It’s not something that really has expiration, like a newspaper which is extremely easy to recycle.  Instead I, like many others, tend to hoard electronics.  That N64 from year 2000? You better believe it is still sitting in my closet accruing 10 years of dust.  Outdated computer? Same thing.  This is because it’s a lot harder to just throw away (or recycle) items that were so expensive when purchased and still work.  Obsolete doesn’t mean broken, and there are a few ways to make the recycling process easier.

As can be seen in the following graph, there is quite the discrepancy in the amount of electronics that have been disposed of compared to the amount that have been recycled.  In 2010, there was an estimated 2,700,000 short tons of electronics that ended their life cycle, so there is also about 300,000 short tons that are still being held useless at people’s homes.  This is obviously a problem in both of these situations, and solutions are needed.  A lot of money is being wasted in dormant parts that are sitting in homes or landfills.

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One solution is an obvious one, and it is to make the recycling process easier.  After going through the state website, I found just how difficult it is to accurately recycle an electronic.  You need to go deep into the website, and then find the correct plant that will take your certain electronic (sometimes only certain TV’s will be taken at different recycle centers).  Once you’ve found the correct place, it could be extremely inconvenient to get to, so naturally the dumpster right outside the house is a much more reasonable place to put the electronic.  I propose universal recycle centers, so that every place that people go to recycle cans, they can also recycle various other items.  This would obviously mean that these centers need to increase their capacity because electronics are much larger than a squashed up can, but the long term savings would be worth it.

Another solution is to give people a bonus cash incentive to recycle their recently outdated electronic.  The state could release a list each year of items that have reached the end of their life cycle, and encourage people to recycle them.  An example this year would be to add the iPhone 3G, which is no longer supported by software updates.  This would make people donate/recycle instead of space being taken up by these obsolete electronics.

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