Importance of an E-Waste Plan for your company
The amount of e-waste generated around the world has steadily increased every single year since 2010. There is no end in sight to this phenomenon, as humanity becomes more and more dependent on technology for communication, commerce, and everything in between.
Cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury are the most toxic components in electronic devices and the reason proper e-waste disposal is so imperative. The oft-repeated declaration that one gram of liquid mercury has the power to contaminate a 20 acre lake isn’t exactly accurate. But if that tiny amount of mercury (which is about equivalent to the amount of mercury in a typical home-use thermometer) is dumped into a large lake once every year, the effects will quickly become noticeable and deadly.
Every company must have a concrete plan as to how it handles e-waste. Not only is it a professional responsibility, but could also save you money in the long run.
A vast majority of e-waste in the USA ends up in landfills. Incinerators are often used to dispose of e-waste in Asia. Granted there are no specific statutes that outlaw these practices in the respective regions. But both present dangers to the environment. E-waste stacked in landfills creates methane and other greenhouse gases, while incinerators pollute the air with toxic fumes. These realities have led to more initiatives that encourage recycling.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commenced its Plug-In to eCycling program in 2004. The agency partnered with several electronics manufacturers and peripheral companies to encourage them to “e-cycle” waste. The EPA laid out guidelines that potential partners agreed to follow, with the purpose of gathering data for future regulations. Exercising due diligence to avoid improper dumping of e-waste was one of the primary goals of this initiative.
California’s Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2004 mandates “proper” disposal of e-waste. The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in California provides online lists of recyclers in every county. Foreign countries that are susceptible to dumping from developed nations are also taking steps to curb environmental damage. Nigeria adopted legislation that now charges duties on imported e-waste. The idea was to discourage companies abroad from exporting old electronics that typically end up being burned in large piles and polluting the air in the country.
Stakeholders are watching
The business world is becoming more environmentally-conscious every year as a result of demand from consumers. A 2016 study by Norway-based electronics manufacturer Tandberg found that 53% of consumers worldwide prefer purchasing products and services from companies with strong environmental reputations. The survey also found that high-level talent research the sustainability practices of companies before accepting employment opportunities.
Business partnerships are formed with the primary goal of increasing profits and streamlining operations for both companies. The 21st century has ushered in an era of savvy consumers with more choices than ever. Your company may have a solid reputation for utilizing solar energy, providing incentives for employee with electric cars, etc. But partnerships with companies that are dismissive of environmental concerns reflect directly on your business.
Exercise due diligence when choosing business partners. The extra effort will ultimately reveal itself in a positive manner on your balance sheets.
Comply or close your doors
Two years ago, the California Attorney General announced that Comcast would pay $26 million in damages for illegal dumping of e-waste and violating the privacy of their customers as a result. The state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control concluded in its investigation that Comcast dumped everything from routers and telephones, to old computers and monitors, directly into landfills since 2005.
A large corporation like Comcast can survive this type of penalty. But most small and medium-sized businesses would likely face bankruptcy as a result. E-waste planning is vital for growing your customer base, attracting new customers, and satisfying stakeholders. Governments are also getting more aggressive enforcing regulations surrounding proper e-waste disposal.
It’s in the best interest of both our precious ecosystems and your bottomline to develop an effective e-waste plan for your company and strictly adhere to it. PC Recycle can help you tailor a unique plan for your specific needs. Contact us anytime by email or call during normal business hours to discuss further.