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E-Waste: An Often-Forgotten Environmental Issue

Today’s civilization might be the most technologically advanced in the history of the world as we know it, but this also comes with the burden of properly disposing outdated technology. Unfortunately, the world faces a significant e-waste problem that cannot be ignored. As consumers of technology, this responsibility falls on your shoulders.

E-waste is defined by as:

e-Waste for short – or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) – is the term used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances using electricity. It includes computers, consumer electronics, fridges etc which have been disposed of by their original users. On this website – the e-Waste Guide – “e-waste” is used as a generic term embracing all types of waste containing electrically powered components. e-Waste contains both valuable materials as well as hazardous materials which require special handling and recycling methods.

In more basic terms, your computers, servers, network components, and other hardware, all contain valuable metals that could be dangerous to the environment if they aren’t recycled properly. With a proper workflow set up for recycling these materials, old devices getting thrown out shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Most of the world’s e-waste is sent to third-world countries that don’t have environmentally friendly practices for recycling these devices.

Here’s your daily dose of capitalism: it’s actually much cheaper to ship discarded devices overseas rather than recycling them, which leads to large accumulations of the devices that pile up in places like Guiyu, China. Dubbed the e-waste capital of the world by Slate, Guiyu has a population of around 150,000. One of the large industries in Guiyu is dismantling discarded devices and obtaining the valuable metals. While it’s great that they’re finding ways to make the most out of the e-waste problem, another huge issue is that their unregulated methods are very dangerous to both the population and the surrounding environment.

For example, Slate explains that “to extract metals from a circuit board, the workers burn each part over an open fire; this process releases large amounts of toxic gas into the air and the town’s water supply.” This practice is naturally a cause for concern, especially considering the fact that the pollution winds up in the bloodstream of the inhabitants in the form of harmful metals like lead, copper, zinc, etc.

The most effective way to take the fight to environmental pollution caused by e-waste is for your business to go through the proper recycling process. First thing’s first: make sure that none of your devices are still storing critical or sensitive information. It helps to have a trusted technology professional on-hand during this process, like those at SemTech IT Solutions. Following best practices when ditching your old technology is imperative, especially when you consider what could happen if some stranger (or worse, a hacker) were to find your device and resuscitate it. Once you’re sure that no more information is on the device, it can safely be recycled through the proper channels. We can assist you with this, too; SemTech IT Solutions can recycle your old technology in an environmentally-friendly manner.

The best way to handle the implementation of new technology and the recycling of your old technology is to contact SemTech IT Solutions. To learn more, give us a call at 407-830-1434.


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