Every year, millions of consumers will buy the latest tech, upgraded products and newly released appliances. The metals within these items, including copper piping, aluminum, electric wires and more, are actually precious resources that can be reused and recycled. However, many people don’t realize this and end up throwing out the old equipment. But what happens to the valuable metals that end up in the landfill?
According to the EPA, Americans generate over 250 million tons of trash each year. Right now, most of that trash doesn’t get recycled or composted. Instead, it ends up in landfills and incinerators, polluting the communities that house these facilities and exacerbating our climate crisis.
The big issue
The everyday products that are being used and thrown away will often contain harsh pollutants and heavy metals. When these products end up in landfills or incinerators, they can release toxic chemicals (such as lead, mercury and cadmium) that harm the health of the environment and the community. The EPA has also found landfills to be the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, making it a powerful contributor to the global climate crisis.
Furthermore, the burning chemicals and runoff from landfills have caused an immeasurable amount of harm to workers who handle the recycling. Those without protective equipment, especially in countries with loose regulations, are exposed to the high levels of toxic chemicals. Because of this, workers and residents living nearby can suffer long-term health issues (such as respiratory diseases and cancer). Communities surrounding landfills have even found toxic leakage in their water supplies.
The cost of electronics
As the global problem of ecological destruction and climate change continues, individuals and small businesses must participate in safe and responsible recycling. Below are some useful facts pertaining to metal recycling. (Source)
- Producing a computer along with its monitor takes at least 1.5 tons of water, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 530 pounds of fossil fuels
- Only 20% of e-waste is documented to have been collected and recycled, despite high-value recoverable materials such as copper and gold
- By recycling 1 million cell phones, more than 35,000 pounds of copper, 33 pounds of palladium, 772 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered
Recycling the right way
Unfortunately, more e-waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators than is being recycled. If you’re planning on recycling your old equipment, be sure to use a credible recycling company. Many organizations who claim to collect and refurbish e-waste do not follow the rules, regulations or safety standards. At Manville Recycling, we pride ourselves in being a leading Canadian recycler. We use high-tech separation methods to take out the usable metals in your unwanted equipment, which will be collected and sorted for safe processing.