What Are We Conserving When We Recycle Electronics?

Greentree Recycling is passionately dedicated to conservation.  As an electronics recycler, we are working hard in our community and with our customers to protect natural resources and push back the (literally) rising tide of climate change.  We thought you’d like to know more about the natural elements you’re conserving when you recycle your home or business electronics!

Lots of things qualify as electronic waste including computers (desktops, all-in-one computers, laptops, notebooks, netbooks, and tablets), computer monitors (CRTs, flat panel, LCD, plasma displays), printers including multifunctional machines but not including floor-standing models), tv’s (same types as under monitors), computer peripherals (anything that connects to a computer), cell phones and more.  When you recycle, rather than discard, these things you are helping to reduce our reliance on ‘virgin’ materials which can’t be recovered.

conserving electronics - items capable of being recycled

Your recyclable electronics have many recoverable materials in them.  Metals are one important category.  When you e-recycle, you are helping to return important metals such as aluminum, copper, gold, silver, and ferrous (iron-containing) metals back to the resource stream so they can be used again in other ways!  You also are saving many other resources which are part of the metals extraction or product manufacturing process!  For example, the motherboards of most computers include gold which is used in wiring and as a coating for wiring or contact points in memory cards.  However, extracting gold is extremely wasteful!  Just think – for every single ounce of gold, over 80 tons of waste are generated.  If you include the heavy energy demands required to support the actual manufacturing process, the carbon footprint created by the supply and demand for new electronics is actually much more than this!

Its not just the actual metals we are mining that pose a problem, though.  The mining of rare earth elements, used in all of our smart phones, requires extractors to separate them from the radioactive  elements thorium and uranium, with which they are always found.  Many times, the radioactive waste is mis-managed and workers and residents living near the factories have been harmed.

conserving and recycling your used electronics saves plastics and oils, metals, and reduces toxic and radioactive waste from productionElectronics also contain plastics which are produced from the earth’s dwindling oil reserves.  When you recycle your electronics or buy refurbished or reused electronics rather than brand new products, you are also saving oil.

E-recycling also saves landfill space, which is another limited resource.  E-waste is the fastest growing waste-stream today.  In 1970, most households had only one TV and zero computers.  Today, Americans throw away more than 9.4 million tons of e-waste every year!  It’s hard to imagine just how much that is, so here’s a couple examples to help out.

Take the empire state building in New York, multiple it 26 times and that is the amount of electronics trash we are throwing away every year!  It’s also approximately equal to 49,000,000 747 jumbo jets.  Have you picked your jaw off the floor yet?  Do you suppose we should be doing something about this problem?  (Rhetorical question).

The good news is that when individuals and companies put their mind to it, great things can happen.  For instance, Apple computer has been scoring some nice wins for the environment because they’ve made conserving our natural resources a priority!  In 2015, Apple recovered over 61 million pounds of materials for reuse, including steel, glass, plastics, aluminum, copper, cobalt, nickel, lead, zinc and silver!

What can your company or household do to help mother earth?  Greentree Electronics has specialists on staff that want to work with you in this critical area.  We recycle electronics, refurbish used computers and peripherals and resell ‘like new’ electronics.  We’re based right here in Irvine, California and cover all of Southern California including the following counties:  Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, San Diego.  Call us to schedule a pickup:  800-405-6308