Sustainable Tech – Recycling Electronics

As innovations in technology continue to advance, one issue always remains: sustainability in technology. In the US alone, we generate approximately 3.15 million tons of e-waste (technology that is either obsolete or broken) per year, with only 40% being recycled. Across the globe, we generate approximately 20-50 million metric tons of e-waste annually, totaling about 5% of the world’s solid waste.

However, each of us can play a role in tackling this daunting issue. Here are a few ways we can start responsibly disposing and buying our technology:

  1. Give the gift of tech – often when we are upgrading to the newest tech, our old devices still work. Give your old tech to family, friends, or coworkers. Also, consider donating your tech to local charities and organizations.
  2. Recycle – When in doubt, don’t throw it out! Search for a local technology recycler, optimally called an E-Steward, to take your tech off your hands. E-stewards use the highest standards in recycling your technology and ensuring that it is being used efficiently and ethically.
  3. Bring it to a Store – Many large technology chain stores have a recycling program for most forms of technology. Both Best Buy and Staples make recycling your old tech convenient and straightforward.
  4. Cell Phones – Consider donating your old cell phones and chargers to a local recycling center. For every one million cell phones recycled, we can reclaim 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, 35,274 pounds of copper, and 33 pounds of palladium. Because these minerals and metals are difficult to mine and require a considerable amount of energy to extract, donating your old phones can be an environmental lifesaver.

Author: Michele Currenti

Michele is a creative content intern in Educational Activities at IEEE. She is currently pursing her masters in Voice & Opera at the University of Maryland, College Park. She also completed a Bachelor of Science in Brain & Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Music at the Eastman School of Music. She is interested in finding the various intersections of science and the arts to better humanity.