Since the beginning of ‘The Digital Age’ also known as ‘The Information Age’, the development of new and more complex technologies has been steadily increasing. With the introduction of the personal computer to the market in the 70’s, a door was opened, which gave way to a dizzying development in the technology industry, all the way to the electronic equipment we use today. But what happens to the millions of computers, tablets and cell phones that are no longer the latest model and therefore nobody wants?
They end up being… junk.
The majority of all e-waste is made up of personal devices, such as: computers, monitors, tablets, televisions and smartphones. These have become a significant threat over the years, totaling 50 million tons of e-waste annually, according to a study conducted by the United Nations’ UNEP program. The study showed that most of this e-waste is not processed through an adequate recycling system and can represent up to 70% of the hazardous waste that ends up in landfills.
It is estimated that the volume of e-waste will be increasing and reach about 74.7 MT by 2030; almost double in 16 years, since 2014. A worrying figure not only for environmental well-being, but also for the health of humans and future generations.
Why should you care?.
As a key idea, according to a publication of BBC News, a single fluorescent light tube can pollute up to 16 thousand liters of water; a nickel-cadmium battery of those used in mobile telephony pollutes 50 thousand liters of water; while a television can pollute up to 80 thousand liters of water.
Substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, antimony and chromium are materials with high levels of toxicity present in electronics that directly threaten the well-being of our communities and territories.
If irresponsibly discarded, they could find their way into our water systems and eventually contaminate our food chain system through livestock, fish and crops. This can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, circulatory system, reproductive disorders and even infertility in humans.
Is there a solution?.
Despite the complexity of electronic equipment and its risk to human health, the elements they contain can be recovered, recycled and used as secondary raw material for new products, which helps to reduce the exploitation of virgin materials in natural resources.
Even if the electronics are obsolete or damaged, the versatility of the materials of which they are composed means that they have an added value, beyond the main function of the equipment itself.
Of the more than 60 elements of the periodic table that are present in electronics, there are precious metals of high value such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, iron and aluminum to name a few. Making this electronic equipment a source of recoverable precious metals with high monetary value, despite the limits that exist by market.
In 2016 alone, more than 400,000 tons of cell phones were discarded. Which had an approximate value of more than $9.5 billion, according to a UN study.
If all electronic equipment is recycled correctly and responsibly, this could exceed 55 billion dollars and become a source of income with a high economic level for the world, opening the way to an invaluable source of wealth.
Europe and Asia are leading the movement of environmental regulations related to the recycling of electronic equipment in the world. Although some regulations do exist in the Americas, there is still much work to be done.
The best way to contribute and safeguard our communities for our health is to start with simple but powerful actions. Do an internet search for specialized electronics recycling centers, have your equipment ready and dispose of it in a responsible and conscientious manner once you no longer have use for it. You can even make a collection in your family circle or in your community, and help others to discard them properly.
It is up to everyone to generate an impact opposite to the current one and take responsible action in the management of this equipment. It is not only a benefit for the planet, but for our communities and the economy of our country.
*** Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***
What we do:
Our Environmental Policy
The management and all who work at E-Cycling Puerto Rico are committed to care for the environment, responsible recycling and continual improvement.
E-Cycling Puerto Rico ensures that all its activities are carried out in conformance with relevant environmental legislation and other requirements. We will reduce landfill by recycling, minimize waste, reduce energy consumption, reduce harmful emissions and, where possible, to work with suppliers who themselves have sound environmental policies.
E-Cycling Puerto Rico will observe all applicable legal requirements and other requirements which relate to environmental aspects. An essential feature of the environmental management system is a commitment to improving environmental performance. This is achieved by setting annual operational controls for objectives and targets, which are regularly monitored and reviewed. The objectives and targets are publicized throughout the organization, and all staff are committed to their achievement.
In order to ensure the achievement of the above commitments, E-Cycling Puerto Rico will implement an environmental management system that satisfies the requirements of ISO 14001:2004.
This policy and the obligations and responsibilities required by the environmental management system have been communicated to all employees. The Policy is available to the public on request.