Ewaste is an informal term for electronics that are at or near the end of their useful life.
Many of these products have toxic components such as lead, mercury and cadmium that, when improperly disposed of, damage the environment.
Much of this ewaste can be recycled and reused. By reducing, reusing and recycling these hazardous material-containing products, every consumer can help contribute to the reduction of the increasingly widespread problem of environmental toxins arising from discarded ewaste.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
1. Take good care of your electronic items so they last as long as possible. Before purchasing a new computer system, for example, check into upgrading individual components. You may find that all you need is one or two components replaced, saving money and helping the environment at the same time. Proper maintenance of products to extend their lifespans helps to reduce material consumption, reducing the number of products in the waste stream.
2. Consider the purchase of refurbished products when possible. Refurbished products usually carry the same manufacturer's warranty as new items. Working consumer electronics may be donated to a charity or thrift store so that they can be reused by others.
3. Nonfunctional electronic products such as computer monitors and televisions should be recycled instead of thrown away. Many, if not all products, are packaged with recyclable materials. Cardboard, polystyrene and plastic packing can all be recycled. Check with your local shipping and mailing service store regarding these items. Many businesses will accept materials such as packing peanuts and other padding.
4. Batteries, depending on the type, can and should be recycled. Alkaline batteries are considered by the federal government to be non-hazardous waste and can be disposed of in the trash. Lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries commonly used in laptops and cell phones are also considered non-hazardous waste; however, they can be recycled and should be taken to a recycling center. Ni-cad, lead acid, sealed lead acid (automobile) and silver oxide and button (common in watches and hearing aids) batteries are all classified as hazardous waste and need to be recycled. Check the label before throwing away such batteries.
5. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one million cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 33 cars from the road for a year. As of April 2009, the EPA reports that only 10 percent of cell phones are recycled each year. Recycling your cell phone, PDA, chargers, cell phone batteries and other accessories helps recover valuable materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
Tips & Warnings
When donating your cell phone, clear all your personal information from the phone's memory. Contact your cell phone manufacturer for instructions on how to reset the phone so that any information you had stored is permanently destroyed.
Author: By Kay Phillips, eHow Contributor