5 E-Waste Facts You Need to Know

Electronics play a more central role in our daily lives than ever before. School, jobs, social lives, and entertainment all rely on our access to the digital world. Even the most basic, old-fashioned professions have adopted technology into their business models, with phones and computers handling the overwhelming majority of modern communications. 

But while electronic dependence is relatively new in the grand scheme of human history, we’ve been using these devices for long enough that the disposal of unused, broken, or outdated electronics also plays a major role in our society. As a user of electronic devices, there are a few e-waste facts you need to know. First of all, what do we mean by “e-waste”?

What Is E-Waste?

“E-waste” or “e-scrap” refers to any materials left behind by discarded electronic devices. E-waste includes not only actual scrap, like plastic housings and broken parts but also complete, reusable electronic components. 

Due to their short lifecycles compared to other consumer goods, electronics generate a huge amount of waste. But disposing of e-scrap correctly is challenging without a qualified recycling partner. We use a wide variety of devices made from many different materials, all of which are subject to complex safety and environmental policies. So handling e-waste in a way that’s compliant, eco-friendly, and cost-effective can be a challenge.

5 Facts to Know About E-Waste

While the world of e-scrap is vast, knowing a few basics can help us understand where things are headed for electronic waste. Here are five important e-waste facts to keep in mind when thinking about getting rid of your old electronics. 

1. The US and Taiwanese governments set international e-waste regulations.

Since 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Taiwanese Environmental Protection Administration have jointly coordinated the International E-Waste Management Network. This organization brings together government officials and policy-makers from around the globe to determine best practices for e-waste recycling and disposal. 

In addition to international guidelines, each country has its own laws for managing e-waste. Proper electronic waste recycling is often also governed at a state and local level, with regulations aimed at the safe disposal of hazardous materials commonly found in electronics, such as lead, nickel, and mercury.

2. Cellphones and other electronics contain recoverable amounts of gold, silver, and other precious metals. 

Almost all modern electronic devices contain varying amounts of precious metals and rare earth minerals. Cell phones, tablets, and computers all use precious metals in their components, including gold and silver. According to a 2012 report, Americans throw away phones containing more than $60 million in gold and silver each year — but that number has likely grown over the past decade.

The gold and silver within mobile devices are deeply embedded in the devices and not large enough to be extracted by regular tools, requiring special processing for recovery. But recycling these devices is well worthwhile, as for every one million cellphones recycled, there are 35,274 recoverable pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium.

3. In the future, electric car batteries will make up a huge portion of e-waste.

Another popular electronic component that is only increasing in popularity is the modern electric car battery. As more electric and hybrid cars hit the market every year, the disposal of batteries becomes a more pressing concern. Repeated charging and discharging cause battery cells to lose their ability to hold electricity. Because of this, long-term owners of electric vehicles may have to replace the batteries in their vehicles during the car’s lifecycle. Due to these replacements, more drivers will be forced to dispose of their batteries. However, throwing them out with the trash is not recommended, as recycling electric car batteries for their precious metals is a much more environmentally-conscious method of disposal. 

4. California has already banned the sale of new internal combustion engine cars starting in 2035.

While it may seem like widespread acceptance of fully electric vehicles is a long way off, it’s coming sooner than you think. As a matter of fact, California recently passed a bill that will make the sale of new internal combustion engine cars illegal starting in less than 15 years. While the bill is the first of its kind in the US, other countries have announced similar legislation. 

While not yet fully competitive with conventionally-powered vehicles from a usability standpoint, electric car technology and charging infrastructure have advanced significantly in recent years. As more electric vehicles take to the roads, so will the number of electronic components becoming e-waste. 

5. The market for reusable and recycled electronic components is already growing.

Thanks to the processes of IT asset disposition (ITAD), a secondary marketplace for repurposing discarded IT hardware and other electronics is growing quickly. While this market is already huge, a recent report suggests that the ITAD market will continue to boom, reaching a worth of $23.5 billion by the year 2027.

In addition to being essential to maintaining legal compliance and avoiding ecological damage, proper ITAD can be good for business as well. When unused electronics are reused or recycled, they generate revenue on the ITAD market, returning value to the companies getting rid of them. 

Choosing the Right E-Waste Disposal Partner

When creating an ITAD strategy for your company, choosing the right partner is essential to ensuring clean, efficient e-waste disposition. A reliable e-recycling partner can not only ensure that your unused electronics are disposed of in safe, legal ways, but they can also make the most of the parts you give them, optimizing prices for your company. 

When it comes to choosing the right e-scrap disposal strategy, First America Metal Corporation (FAMCe) has you covered. We understand the e-waste facts, and we have been a world leader in electronics and metal scrap recycling and non-ferrous export for over 15 years. Our team has over 30 years of experience in reusing and recycling metal commodities, and we are known as one of the top five metal exporters in the entire Midwest.

FAMCe specializes in creating innovative, greener solutions for businesses that want transparent and environmentally-friendly methods of reusing and recycling electronic scrap, high-temperature alloys, and non-ferrous scrap. Our level of expertise, unparalleled customer service, and aggressive pricing make FAMCe the leading option for almost any recycling need.
Learn more and get in touch with us at firstamerica.com.

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