What Happens When Electronics are Improperly Recycled

Updated: Apr 28

Rising technology trends mean consumers replace their electronics at a faster rate than ever before. This means that older technologies will get thrown away or recycled at best. However, most electronic waste facilities who conduct electronic recycle might not be certified and abide by the proper handling regulations. It’s crucial to know what happens when electronics are improperly recycled so that you avoid uncertified recyclers and only choose those with an R2 certification.

It Causes Pollution

Improper e-waste disposal is one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution. Burning or poor recycling techniques result in air pollution. Some recycling centers burn e-waste to extract the metals inside. This is especially true regarding “end-of-life” electronics. Ultimately, newer hardware will replace all preexisting or outdated hardware once a certain time has passed. For example, certain older software is not compatible with new hardware systems. End-of-life hardware is often improperly treated in recycling centers where it can affect the air and water sources. As heavy metals get burnt or leak, heavy metals and other contaminants affect runoff that seeps into groundwater. This runoff then pollutes the soil and water sources, negatively affecting nearby ecosystems.

It’s Shipped Elsewhere

Certain e-waste facilities ship their waste products to other parts of the world for waste management. These landfills are typically in countries like China, India, Pakistan, and Ghana where workers go through devices and strip them of their raw materials. Although it’s convenient to outsource this responsibility, it is highly unethical. This releases the environmental responsibility of companies to developing nations where disposing of e-waste causes pollution or health problems. Not to mention, it’s also a huge safety risk. Recyclers in these countries often scavenge metals in unprotected conditions.

It Risks Information Security

Planned obsolescence—the main driver in e-recycling—refers to the behavior of continually replacing old technology or other product with its new version. The main issue with constantly replacing old technology is that data and important information are not always deleted. While consumers and companies replace their computers and mainframes, they sometimes fail to wipe their important data. When these devices get shipped to other countries, it increases the risk for a security breach and unauthorized access to sensitive information.

With that said, since we are an R2 certified company, those of us at Evergreen IT Solutions ensure properly regulated electronic recycling in the San Jose area. We also offer data decommissioning and erasing to maximize your data security.

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