The Effects of E-Waste on the Environment

Box of old computer parts

As electronics become more and more vital to everyday life, so does e-waste recycling. According to the EPA, the United States discarded 2.37 million tons of electronics in the year 2009 alone. Only 25% of that was collected for e-waste recycling, while the rest was left to contaminate landfills.

E-waste recycling can go a long way towards combatting the harmful effects of electronic waste. Here are 3 ways that e-waste impacts the environment.

1. Soil

Electronics contain heavy metals such as nickel, zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lithium, barium, and more. When e-waste is disposed in landfills instead of by an e-waste recycling company, these metals can leech into the soil, contaminating the land and the plants that live there.

These harmful pollutants can remain in the soil for decades, causing long-term damage to the land and rendering it unusable for agriculture. E-waste recycling allows us to recover those metals and reuse them in new electronics rather than polluting the environment.

2. Water

The same harmful metals that can leak into the soil can then seep into the area’s groundwater, thereby entering the local water system. Groundwater is the water that’s present beneath the soil in the rocky upper layers of the earth’s surface. When it rains, water seeps through the soil and into the groundwater, which then flows into lakes, rivers, and streams.

Groundwater contamination is a huge problem, as more than 50% of the population in the United States relies on groundwater for their drinking water and to irrigate crops. Polluted groundwater can also harm the ecosystems of our local waterbodies, but e-waste recycling can help protect the organisms that live there.

3. Air

Landfills use incinerators to burn refuse. When heavy metals are burned, their toxins are released into the atmosphere and the air we breathe. This contributes to air pollution and reduced air quality, which can especially be an issue near big cities that already suffer from air quality issues.

Fortunately, an e-waste recycling company can help combat the harmful effects that e-waste has on the environment. At ProTek Recycling, we’re doing our part to recycle old electronics in an environmentally friendly way and keep all electronics out of the landfill. Contact us today to learn more!


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