It’s Earth Month, which means we all have a renewed focus on being environmentally friendly and committing to recycling. Here at Goodwill, the idea of being green has always been an underlying philosophy of our business since our beginnings in 1919 and extends throughout our entire organization.
One of the ways Goodwill is being an environmental pioneer is through Goodwill E-cycle, our electronics recycling and refurbishment operation. We asked Chris Pier, the Director of Goodwill Commercial Recycling Services, to share information about electronics recycling, and how our E-cycle business is helping to keep toxic chemicals out of landfills and reducing the carbon footprint of the communities we serve.
What is electronic waste?
Electronic waste consists of all electronic devices, materials, or elements of a device that are no longer useful or have been discarded. This can include a variety of items that you would expect, like computers, tablets, cell phones, mice, keyboards and printers. But it also includes things like healthcare devices, cameras, old VHS recorders, DVDs, radios, and other consumer electronics, past and present.
What is the real environmental impact of electronics not being recycled properly?
The lifecycle of electronics is becoming shorter and shorter, which means the amount of e-waste is growing rapidly. The consequences of not properly recycling electronics has long term effects on water quality, soil contamination, and air pollution.
When electronic waste ends up in landfills, toxic materials drain into the surrounding soil. These toxins travel into the groundwater, affecting the condition of soil and vegetation, along with the nearby bodies of water such as streams, rivers, and lakes. These harmful metals and contaminants are dangerous to the health of both land and aquatic animals.
We all know it’s important to recycle things like bottles and cans, but it’s as critical to keep technology out of landfills for the health of people and of the planet.
Where does most of the electronic waste that Goodwill receives come from?
We take electronics that are donated through our Goodwill Store & Donation Centers for recycling and refurbishment, and we also have a robust commercial recycling business. We destroy everything from computers and hard drives, mice and other accessories, phones and tablets, and some things you may not think about, like healthcare equipment and server racks. The type and size may vary, but the secure recycling process is the same for all materials.
Is there something that a person or company should be looking for when finding a place to recycle electronic waste? How does someone know a recycler is safe?
Goodwill E-cycle has R2, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 certifications, the premier certifications for electronics recycling. A recycler with these certifications ensures the quality, transparency, environmental, and social responsibility of its facilities. A company that is R2-certified is able to make the same assurances about each of its downstream vendors as well.
When someone brings an old computer to one of our Store & Donation Centers, or we pick up a large server from a major Milwaukee company, those items are managed in a responsible and secure way. Ensuring that data is destroyed and the environment is protected are the cornerstones of any reputable recycling business, and Goodwill is proud to display our commitment to both.
Does Goodwill E-cycle support the Goodwill mission?
It absolutely does! Goodwill E-cycle is able to employ and train people with disabilities and disadvantages in the recycling and refurbishment of computers and other electronics. Revenue from these operations is reinvested within the communities the organization serves. Goodwill believes in the power of work that transforms lives. Customers who work with Goodwill E-cycle are supporting people in their community through their partnership.
How do I donate my electronic waste?
If you have computers and other electronics at home in your closets, basement and attic, now is the time to recycle! Click here to find a Goodwill Store & Donation Center near you.
For more information on how Goodwill E-cycle partners with companies with their electronic waste disposal strategies, please contact Chris Pier, Director of Commercial Recycling Services, at (414) 847-4274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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