The Death of Recycling; Long Live Recycling!

electronic waste

Most systems for recycling are too costly to be effective | Sustainable ITAD is the best way to recycle | True ITAD recycling has 3 times the ROI


We’ve been taught to follow the 3 Rs, but today’s recycling is often nothing more than a cruel joke. Most systems to recycle commodities such as plastic, glass, and paper are a placebo administered to make us feel better about our insatiable consumerism. However, there is one one type of waste that is not only highly recyclable, but it can bring three times the return of any other type of waste. IT Asset Disposition, when done well, can be the best thing you can do for our planet.

The Sustainability Lie We’ve Been Told

For all the systems we have in place to recycle our stuff, the vast majority of it is a red herring. The sad truth is recycling plants can’t afford to do the right thing and make use of the tons of trash they take in. Despite the confounding rules of recycling they make for us (no type-5 plastic, small-neck bottles only, no lids), what ends up in the bin is still compromised. This inevitably means a staggering amount of “recycled” material ends up in landfill.

This fact is a hard pill to swallow for the more conscientious of us. We want to be able to shop mindfully, but instead, the lie of recycling is promulgated across our country to obfuscate the basic reality. Of course, recycling isn’t all bad. It is better than simply landfilling every piece of packaging we come across, but the point is standard recycling is horribly inefficient.

Not All Recycling is Equal

When it comes to recycling, the sky is the limit in terms of possible positive impacts. We just need to figure out how to do it better. Reuse and recycling are clearly the best ideas for the things we no longer want. And when done correctly, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) can be the most redeeming form of recycling. E-waste has a unique value that other recycling streams does not.

The differentiator is mainly that electronic devices have components that can be accessed immediately; unlike, say, aluminum. Aluminum has to be smelted and reduced down to a molten form before it can be put to use again. Whereas tablets, laptops, and a host of other digital devices can be back in use after a simple data wipe.

The Three Benefits of Sustainable e-Waste Disposal

Because of this unique quality, e-waste has a multi-tiered value tree. Aluminum, glass, and plastic can be recycled to keep waste out of landfills or save us from having to process more raw materials. This can certainly help improve current planetary circumstances, but when it comes to electronics being recycled, ITAD can improve things three times over.

The first way sustainable ITAD benefits the planet is in keeping toxic chemicals from leaching into ground water or toxic particulate from becoming airborne. E-waste deposits across the world create nightmare situations; acrid smoke, brackish water, and carcinogenic compounds in every breath. There is no way to overstate the problem e-waste has created for this planet. Which leads us to the second way sustainable ITAD can help the planet: sourcing.

Sourcing materials for electronic devices has become a scourge. Conflict minerals, toxic run-off, and water consumption are just the tip of the iceberg for what our devices do to the planet before we even own them. This calamity can be slowed by effective IT asset disposition. Recycling devices can provide a host of materials for future manufacturing, and by reusing and repurposing electronic devices, we keep products in use longer, further reducing the need for those blood minerals. The power of consumers to affect manufacturers is immense, and often underutilized.

The third way sustainable ITAD benefits the planet right now is in the refurbishment of reusable devices. Lack of access to technology keeps many people from being able to apply for jobs, take educational courses, or get access to healthcare. In the US, digital access has become a basic need. By refurbishing end-of-life devices, we are able to recirculate them back into schools and organizations across the community to help equip those currently without access.

This helps our planet by giving the disadvantaged a hand up out of the digital divide. Improving the way of life for our communities helps improve life overall. And on the scale of sustainability, this is a different kind of resourcefulness; one that creates long-lasting and far-reaching sustainability. If you haven’t already, contact a certified, sustainable ITAD partner for proper disposition of your surplus electronic devices. The planet will thank you three times over.