Tuesday, August 16, 2016 2:38 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction
Over the last few years, the push to go paperless has been less a gentle touch than a definite shove towards a greener, digital future. You’ll have felt its effects in many aspects of your life: you’re charged extra by your cell phone company if you want paper bills, your bank sends your financial statements via email, and mail carriers ask for a digital signature before they hand over a parcel. For a growing number of people, the need to write on a piece of paper with a pen is slowly becoming obsolete. Instead, they use their phone, tablet, or computer when they need to write lists, leave messages, or even complete their taxes!
Paper consumption has a significant impact on the environment, so limiting our use of paper is the step in the right direction. It takes a monumental amount of water and electricity to produce the average paper product – an end product that usually ends up taking valuable space in landfills around the world. This growing paperless trend should be the step in the right direction. The less paper we use, the less energy and landfill space is wasted. Right? Unfortunately, the answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.
While we reduce paper waste through green paperless initiatives, we’ve created a new kind of trash that’s threatening our environment. E-waste has become a worldwide concern for many environmentalists. It consists of any old device that ends up being thrown out and can include anything like your old cell phone, a burnt out hard drive, or an obsolete desktop computer. According to a recent study completed by the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 40 million tonnes of e-waste is discarded each year. The majority of it never finds itself in the landfills across the developed world. Anywhere from 50 - 80% of the world’s global output is illegally recycled in developing countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, China, and India.
The term recycled is used very loosely here. Unlike the strict laws regulating recycling programs here in our own backyard (and the very same ones we abide by when we offer our guarantee of recycling) there are no governing bodies controlling the recycling processes in these countries. Their methods can range from anywhere from burning to simply dismantling the devices and storing them in people’s literal backyards.
Due to the chemicals and metals used in these products, these rudimentary techniques result in unspeakable air, water, and soil pollution. Discarded computers are replete with copper and computer chips and when they’re burned they release hydrocarbons, brominated dioxins, and other heavy metals into the air. Older televisions and monitors contain cathode ray tubes which contain lead and barium that have been linked to the contamination of ground water in nearby communities. One landfill in particular, the Guiyu of Southeast China, has released toxic particles into Pearl River Delta Region. It’s the largest e-waste recycling plant in the world and is responsible for contaminating the soil and therefore crops of an area that contains 45 million people, many of whom now suffer from environment-related health concerns.
There’s also a human element. Many of the illicit recycling plants in the developing world force poor labourers in the surrounding areas to work for pitifully low wages while working with these hazardous materials. With little to no worker’s rights or workplace safety, these labourers are under direct threat every day they go to work.
The health and environmental impact of e-waste is a cause for concern, which is why we need to be careful about how we dispose of our obsolete devices here in the GTA. Don’t drop off your old computers and cell phones to recycling drives organized by your community. Without knowing how and where they dispose of these items, you could very well be contributing to this global issue.
When you need to recycle your old devices, turn to a program that you can trust. Our electronic data services first destroy the hard drives, CD-ROMs, and other materials you need disposed. Once destroyed, we deliver its remnants to a secure recycling plant in the GTA which abides by the provincial and federal laws regarding safe practices. To learn more about how we plan on recycling your electronics, give us a call. One of our representatives will be happy to clarify our plan and put you down for a pickup.
You may use your phones, laptops, and tablets to do more now than ever, but you don’t need to add pollution to the list of its abilities. Make sure you get them shredded using our mobile shredders. It’s the only way you can ensure the important data they store is properly destroyed and recycled the right way.