How to Recycle E-Waste


E-waste is the general term used for broken, obsolete or surplus parts of electrical equipment. It’s also known as electronic waste. Because of the various toxic substances contained in many electronic items, over recent years it has become an enormous problem throughout the world. Here in the U.S., because of strict legislation which is now being brought in nationwide, the disposal of e-waste is reasonably under control. But in some other countries, such as those in the third world, there are major problems with contamination from substances such as lead and cadmium.

Can E-waste be recycled?

The recycling of electronic waste products is often referred to as e-cycling. Because of the cost and risks involved in breaking down e-waste to its component parts, it is best to see if there is another option available. This can include re-use, repair or refurbishing. However, if none of these are feasible, then recycling is the next best option.

Because e-waste contains many precious natural resources, it is definitely worth recycling them. Precious metals and engineered plastics are the main components and re-using them is preferable to using up more virgin resources or the cost of fabricating them.

All towns and cities offer recycling facilities for electronics. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit and enter your zip code.

What are the possibilities for recycling e-waste material?

If your e-waste is recycled, there are many things which it may be used for. Precious metals such as gold can be recovered, and used for a multitude of options. If you want to see what the current values of your gold and silver are, you can check prices online. Recycled plastics also have many uses. Often broken or obsolete e-waste can be used to produce new electronics, or to repair or refurbish other products.

But what about the resources used in the e-waste recycling process?

The biggest problem with e-waste is the hazard it poses to human health and to the environment. Dumping e-waste in landfill not only takes up room, but hazardous waste can leech into the surrounding soil resulting in contamination.

Even though it uses up resources to recycle e-waste, it is still worth doing because of the huge amount of valuable natural resources involved. Currently the U.S. produces over 50 million tons of e-waste every year, the most in the world, but only around 15-20% of this is recycled. The rest of it goes into landfill. The amount of e-waste is only set to rise over the coming years as the speed of technology advances, so it’s imperative that recycling, reusing and repairing is brought into action as much as possible. Because of this there are many government initiatives to raise awareness, and it is up to each and every one of us to be responsible in the way that we dispose of our e-waste.


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