Recycling involves collecting, sorting and processing items into new products. Why is this so important?
Recycling saves our precious raw materials and resources.
Recycling saves the environment and reduces waste. We need to protect our land from pollution and destruction of natural habitats. Using landfill sites to bury waste produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming.
Recycling saves energy. It takes far less energy to produce a new item from recycled materials than it does from raw materials, which again helps to reduce the impact of global warming.
With a little thought, almost everything we use can be recycled. We may regularly recycle everyday items such as paper, glass, plastics and waste food, but how about items which are manufactured from various components – mobile phones, electronic devices, for example. How should we dispose of these?
The rapid rise of technology has led to a growing mountain of discarded electronic items, especially mobile phones, as generally we tend to upgrade these at the end of a contract rather than at the end of their useful life. If we consider the vast amount of items generated over the course of a year alone and think about the potential harmful impact of glass, metal and toxic substances to the environment, humans or wildlife, we can see that the appropriate and safe disposal of e-waste (electronic waste) is extremely important.
Today’s electronic devices are comprised of many different materials and elements, including steel, aluminium, copper, gold, silver and plastic, all of which can be recycled into new items.
Or perhaps your device could be re-used to extend its life? This is an ideal method of disposing of discarded electronic devices. There are charities which collect unwanted mobile phones, refurbishing them and selling them for use in African countries where the landline infrastructure may be poor or having the latest technology is not considered important. Your local phone shop may also operate a facility for recycling your unwanted phone. Next time you upgrade your phone, do ask if they’ll take your existing one and recycle it for you.
There are also community re-use projects for computers. Devices can be refurbished and donated to schools or charities, or again exported to developing countries. Look online for contact details of computer recyclers, but don’t forget to completely erase all personal details and information from hard drives before donating.
The common environmental slogan, ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ also applies to household appliances and electrical devices. We need to take steps to reduce our consumption of items which could potentially become e-waste, reuse products by selling or donating others, thus keeping them out of the waste stream, and recycle unwanted, unused or discarded electronics.
Taking the time today to find a responsible environmentally friendly recycle facility which will either refurbish goods, reuse them or break them down into raw materials for further use will not only keep these items out of landfill, but help to protect our environment for the future.