Recycling the standard office materials such as paper or ink cartridges has become more common in workplaces all over the world- and with more than 1 billion ink cartages used each year its no wonder office recycling is making a positive environmental impact while making it easy for us to feel good about taking small steps for the betterment of our planet.
What’s interesting though is that as positive as a bit of copy paper recycling can be-it may never be as beneficial as what’s come to be known as E-cycling.
The term E-cycling refers to the reuse, or distribution for reuse of electronic equipment rather than just discarding devices and machines at the end of their life cycles.
What qualifies as e-cycleable equipment exactly? Pretty much anything with a circuit board or power cord say most Ecycle experts.
Most discarded computers and electronic devices, like telephones or fax machines are still functional in some way even if not for you and can be easily E-cycled after offices or individuals are done with them.
Even non-functioning equipment can be successfully refurbished to be donated or resold which makes Ecycling even more viable.
Our everyday electronics such as computers, copy machines and cell phones can contain varying degrees of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury. If these devices are not properly recycled, the chemicals within them break down and then make their way into our soil and waterways, affecting the health of millions.
Recently, fish with high mercury content have been labeled a global health risk for consumers and its no wonder when chemicals from our electronics are contaminating drinking water and being absorbed by fish.
What’s more frightening still is that exposure to lead and mercury have been linked to developmental and reproductive disorders as well as cancer.
It’s also estimated that in the past five years manufacturing facilities have discharged more than 3.5 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals into American waters. Some still say that figure is on the low end of the spectrum.
How do I Ecycle?
More organizations each year are specializing in Ecycling. Below is a list of resources to find the location nearest and most appropriate for you.
1. Let’s you find Ecycling centers near you and lists major ones across the USA. http://earth911.com/recycling/electronics/
2. United States Government website showing where to donate electronics. http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm
3. The Rethink Initiative is Ebays answer to recycling electronic equipment. http://pages.ebay.com/rethink/
4.In depth site devoted to Ecycling. This direct link even provides links to download information on how companies can protect valuable or protected information before recycling. http://www.ecyclingtools.com/about/?content=how
5. This company actually sends you a check for sending in your used cell phone. http://www.cellforcash.com/
While it may seem more complex to recycle a massive copy machine than a piece of paper, it’s still no excuse not to Ecycle. It’s been estimated that the volume of e-waste is increasing at a rate 2 to 3 times faster than that of any other waste on the planet. Its time we step up and take responsibility for our electronics as its clear that if we don’t we are only hurting ourselves.