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Responsibilities of Companies towards IT Recycling

Information Technology has brought about a revolution that has reached literally all corners of the globe. The march forward is an ongoing process. Our planet is now overburdened with tons and tons of electronic waste. According to the United Nations, e-waste of the world adds to 50 million tons annually. E-waste is anything used containing wire, plug, battery or using electricity for operations

Consequences of Ignorance:

The usual way of disposing e-waste, is by dumping them in landfills or burning them incinerators. But electronic gadgets contain lead and other toxic substances that get absorbed in the soil, water and air. In a chain reaction humans as well as plants and animals ingest this causing great harm. Thus, proper recycling is a must – it is the call of the hour. Casual processing of this e-waste poses great danger to the environment. In all there are about 60 elements in these electronic items. The toxic contents like mercury and lead get absorbed by the soil and groundwater. The waste also contains rare and valuable materials. If retrieved properly it will allow for conservation of energy.

The demand for new electronics will decline and thus less virgin raw resources will be tapped. Electronic manufacturing involves use huge amounts of water and electricity. For manufacturing a single computer is required fossil fuel weighing a ton and chemicals weighing 48 pounds together with nearly 2 tons of water. More sections of society will benefit from cheaper electronic goods.

One of the biggest fears is that data gets hijacked if not destroyed properly. The apprehension leads them to destroy by hand themselves rather than hand over to any third party for correct disposal.

Neglect of IT Recycling:

The urgent numerous demand for recycling has led to the mushrooming of many specialized recycling firms but the question being posed is – are these companies dealing with IT recycling discharging their responsibilities responsibly?

According to Electronics Takeback Coalition, most electronic dealers are failing miserably in addressing the problem of recycling. Till now professionals dealing with this field lack the proper experience backed by training to audit the recycling process. The recycling processing is very expensive. Doubts have surfaced regarding data security as well as environmental issues.

Donating used electronics merely postpones the issue. It’s like sweeping the dust under the carpet. The problem remains for a future date. 70% to 80% is exported to less privileged parts of the globe.

Surveys have indicated that firms afraid of confidential data getting hijacked are not opting for giving the gadgets to firms that claim to do the job.  In UK 95% of the used computers are landing up in landfills. Out of 500 firms questioned only 5% had plans to responsibly dispose of the waste. Many business units are not even aware of regulations.


Remedial Steps:

The waste management firms have to convince those disposing of their electronic waste that they can do their job properly. A robust recycling programme is required; for instance setting up drop boxes will attract more business. A suggested solution is that manufacturers to join hands with firms wading into the recycling business. Against this background Ecogreen is doing commendable work in this field of recycling.

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