Computer in the Water
Computer in the Water

Understanding the Negative Effects of e-waste on the Environment

Akooba is taking a quick break from discussing our services to let you know steps we can take to improve the environment.

Electronics recycling ensures electronics are being disposed properly to protect the environment from contaminants such as pollution. According to EcoMENA, more than 50 million tons of e-waste is generated every year and finding its way to landfills and dumpsites. Improperly handling electronics can create health hazards by polluting the air and streams due to the toxic materials that make up the components of electronic devices. Some of these materials can include lead, mercury, arsenic, and barium, among others. Thus, it is important to work with electronic recyclers to ensure electronics are properly handled when disposed.

Corporate Social Responsibility is seen as an added boost to a company's business. The environment is one of the top primary efforts considered both good for a company and society as a whole. Disregarding their commitment to the environment, AT&T had to pay $52 million dollars for unlawfully dumping electronic waste in California. In an article written by Reuters, “Investigators cited AT&T for illegally disposing of hazardous wastes and other materials at more than 235 of its warehouses and dispatch centers across the state over a nine-year period”. Not only did AT&T admit no wrongdoing, but they also left e-waste at the dump sites, ignoring materials that could be damaging to public health.

It is important to research safe electronic recycling facilities that carry out the best laws and practices when handling material. Because of the high domestic costs, some companies will send electronics overseas to take advantage of cheaper disposal methods. However, this is often illegal and can sometimes cost an electronics recycling company more in fines than if they would have followed the right procedures. Total Reclaim, a Seattle-based company, acknowledged that it failed to live up to its e-Stewards certification after a watchdog group uncovered e-waste that was sent to undocumented processing facilities in Hong Kong. The company was fined $444,000 as a result of this finding.

Some companies will send their e-waste to China because it is cheaper to break down in a less regulated environment that does not adhere to strict guidelines and certifications. When e-waste is transported, the hazardous materials can still be exposed. These materials can have drastic effects on the local communities, including pollution, contamination, and diseases including cancer.

Recognizing that China is a huge contributor to illegal electronic recycling, China General Administration of Customs announced a one-year campaign to target “foreign waste”, including plastics, industrial waste, electronics and other household materials. One particularly affected region is Guiyu, also known as China’s Electronic Waste Village, believed to have dismantled 1.5 million pounds of junked electronics according to estimates from years ago.

At Akooba, we welcome all of our current and prospective clients to inspect and audit our system of waste disposal. For this, we have a Zero-Landfill Policy using environmentally responsible methods of electronic recycling. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Eco-friendly and environmentally responsible
  • Creates high quality refurbished electronics
  • No e-waste goes to a landfill or is exported overseas to non-OECD Countries
  • Extracts all possible value out of discarded assets
  • Recovers raw materials to be recycled or reused in a new product
  • Prevents harmful toxins from being released into the environment
  • Makes better use of our natural resources

Despite the negative effects of electronic recycling, if done properly and in safe working conditions, it can help to create new environmentally safe products. As our practices improve, new laws continue to be enacted that educate and help regulate recyclers in order to improve the environment. Stay updated with your local policies and be conscious of how properly disposing e-waste can improve your local environment, other countries and yourself.