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Responsible Disposal – Electronic Recycling and Sustainability

  • October 23, 2020

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While electronics drive the modern world, the chemicals, compounds, and casings that go into the manufacturing processes all present a risk to the environment. Disposing of your electronics responsibly will protect the environment and create a sustainable future while you enjoy the convenience of your devices.

Most of us now depend on some devices for a variety of reasons. Our pocket-sized supercomputers give us access to the latest information, social platforms, and communication tools at the push of a button. In 2017, Gartner estimated that consumers bought more than 1.5 billion new devices. Apple’s yearly release of new versions combined with only 20% of e-waste being disposed of properly may compound the problem, even when the company is doing what they can to reduce the effects of e-waste on the environment. 

Protecting the Environment with Responsible Disposal

Why should you care where your outdated devices end up? Well, it starts with all the upstream processes required to manufacture electronics. The compounds and chemicals used in the manufacturing of modern devices already place a burden on the environment. Once these compounds reach their end-of-life period, they need to be disposed of properly, or they could end up in a landfill and affect the health of natural ecosystems and human populations.

Concerning Statistics about E-Waste

Only 12.5% of e-waste goes to a recycling station. A United Nations study found that people discarded about 41.8 million tons of electronics every year. Modern electronics contain a variety of valuable materials, including copper, tin, titanium, gold, aluminum, and silver. Disposing of your devices responsibly can have a major impact on the environment.

The materials used in the manufacture of these products are recyclable. Apple, in 2019, recovered more than 2,000 pounds of gold from recycled devices that included iPhones, iMacs, and iPads from as far back as 2015. Reusing these materials isn’t just good for business­–it reduces the strain on the environment while enabling future sustainability for the technology sector.

The Best Way to Deal with Your E-Waste

Once a device is no longer useful, you have to decide how you want to dispose of it. Choosing the right option for the product depends on what it is, its age, and whether it can still work. Ideally, you can opt for one of the following disposal methods:

  • Recycling – Products are broken down into their base parts that then go through a recycling and recovery process.
  • Donating – Instead of recycling the product, if it still works, then you can donate it to a charity or other organization where it will find a new life.
  • Returning – You could also give it back to the firm who originally manufactured it so that they may dispose of or donate it as part of their sustainability program.

Any one of these three options will reduce the negative impact that discarded electronics have on the planet. Extending the life of the device for as long as possible (by donating it) would be the best option, as it aids with developing a circular economy for electronics.

What are Circular Consumer Electronics?

A circular economy maximizes the use of materials in every stage of the supply chain, from resource extraction to final destruction. It promotes reusability of the materials, designing for disposal, and extending the useful life of the device for as long as possible. Designing with circularity in mind can help protect the environment and ensure we use our scarce natural resources responsibly.

Circularity in consumer electronics would entail:

  • The owner of a device extending its usefulness themselves or by donating it to another group or person.
  • Using devices as gateways to the cloud and distributed computing systems, thereby extending their usability.
  • Recycling internal components and materials for reuse in new products.

E-waste is a major problem around the globe. Many electronics end up in landfills without the appropriate recycling processes in place. Sometimes it may even be illegal to dispose of an old device incorrectly. A circular approach to consumer electronics is the best way to limit the impact on the environment from discarded products.

Finding a Recycling or Redistribution Organization near You

A growing number of organizations offer in-house recycling or recovery programs. As part of Kensington’s sustainability initiatives, we remain dedicated to continuously improving our processes and limiting the impact on the environment from our business. We aim to implement eco-packaging solutions for our entire product line by the end of 2021. In addition to new packaging, we are also looking into the positive impacts we can make as it relates to more sustainable products, and enhancements to our supply chain. 

The eco-packaging comes from natural plant materials, making it less toxic to the environment and is easy to read, use, and recycle. By adopting a sustainable packaging program, Kensington will reduce our carbon footprint and prevent plastic waste from entering the world’s landfills.

Other Recycling Options Available

You can also find a dedicated recycling organization close to you for disposing of your old electronics. You can search for a recycler or find a program that will even offer you a gift voucher (or similar reward) if you donate your devices. It’s important to know what products cause the most harm and to avoid discarding these items whenever possible. TVs, computers, cellphones, and other sophisticated electronics should always be recycled instead of discarded.

Being a Responsible Consumer with Kensington

The electronic boom over the last two decades increased our productivity, interconnectivity, and convenience. As innovations continue to hit the market every day, we need to understand that being a responsible consumer is essential for helping the environment and limiting the effects of e-waste in the world’s landfills.

Recycling, returning, or donating your devices is the best way to dispose of them once they are no longer desirable. Using your devices for as long as possible also helps to protect the environment. Ultimately, the consumer electronics industry will need to move towards a circular model of consumption. Responsible sourcing of materials, designing for reusability, and reclaiming any useful components for recycling can reduce the burden on the world’s natural resources.

Kensington remains committed to building a sustainable and responsible business process for all our products. With our new eco-friendly packaging solutions, we can do our part in helping reduce waste and creating a sustainable consumer electronics industry. The packaging is also easy to open compared to traditional plastic wrapping, providing you with more convenience. Our new packaging is 99% recyclable, uses water-based varnish and plant-based soy inks, and doesn’t contain any chlorine-paper, helping to eliminate tons of waste entering the world’s landfills every year.

Find a recycler near you.

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