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Growing Problem… or Opportunity?

Posted by Chris Pier on March 17, 2017

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In the U.S., we generate over 6.8 billion pounds of unwanted, outdated or non-working electronics every year, and only 29% is recycled! 

In the U.S., we generate over 6.8 billion pounds of unwanted, outdated or non-working electronics every year, and only 29% is recycled! Electronic equipment has transformed the way we communicate. The desire of most Americans to upgrade to the latest laptop,  tablet, or mobile device is driven by the newest features, massive marketing campaigns and difficult repairs that make the latest-and-greatest hard to resist.

What we bought in 2013 in the U.S.:

  • 60 million computers/ laptops
  • 77 million tablets
  • 138 million smartphones

The result of this obsession has created a less visible reality: electronic waste (e-waste) is growing faster than any other waste stream!

Why should you care?

Electronic equipment has been built with materials such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury that can pose unnecessary risks to the environment and human health if not managed properly. If only 29% of these materials are being recycled, the rest are being disposed of by other means. This may include your local landfill or other “dumping” methods that create the ability for these materials to spread from the electronics into our environment.

Resources

It takes 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor, and 81% of a desktop computer’s energy use is in MAKING the computer, not using it.

If you donate that computer to Goodwill, we can help to recover the metals, plastics, and other materials. We can then reintroduce them into the manufacturing stream, instead of wasting energy and resources to harvesting new.

Donating is Easy

By donating your used electronics to Goodwill, not only are you ensuring that these materials are managed properly, you are helping Goodwill fulfill our mission of providing employment and training for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence.Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin has nearly 100 locations and covers 12,000 square miles of southeastern Wisconsin and metropolitan Chicago.

By donating your used electronics to Goodwill, not only are you ensuring that these materials are managed properly, you are helping Goodwill fulfill our mission of providing employment and training for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence.

Another great reason to donate your used electronics to Goodwill is our dedication to reducing or removing the technology gap that exists between economic classes in our society. Refurbishing as much technology as possible creates access to affordable electronics for people who may not be able to afford them otherwise. This significantly increases their ability to search for jobs online and improves their ability to enter the workforce at the speed of today’s job market.

Electronic equipment will continue to be sold through many channels, and in record numbers. Goodwill will be here to turn the problem into opportunities and improve the quality of the communities we serve!

If you have any questions regarding your e-waste and would like to learn about our Goodwill E-Cycle program, feel free to send me an email at Christopher.Pier@goodwillsew.com.

 

Written by Chris Pier

Chris’ background in environmental services started nine years ago, when he assisted in building a startup company that ultimately became largest electronics recycling firm in the Rocky Mountain Region. He loved the recycling industry and spent a lot of his time in his lab where he would test materials for innovative reuses. Chris built a strong relationship with Goodwill over the years, and decided to join the Goodwill Denver team to show how Goodwill could be a leader in the electronics recycling industry. The success of the program led to him leaving Goodwill Denver to assist with the development of the same program at several other Goodwill locations. He is regarded as an industry expert in the field of electronics recycling and is a Lead Auditor for R2 Certification, the industry’s highest environmental Standard.
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