EHS Management

Why It’s Important to Recycle Electronics

In the U.S., we discard over 2 million tons of electronics every year. If we recycle these electronics instead of sending them to landfills and incinerators, we can recover valuable resources and materials while conserving energy and natural resources.

Another Benefit

By recycling our electronics, we also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. How? Well, for starters, these devices are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, including precious metals, copper, plastics and glass.

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Let’s look at a specific example. If we recycle 100 million cell phones, we could recover about 7,500 pounds of gold. Recovering this amount of gold from discarded phones requires less energy than extracting it from the earth, which would involve moving, mining and processing 12 billion pounds of loose soil, sand and rock. Mining metals such as gold requires energy, and so does manufacturing the components we need to construct cell phones or other electronic devices.

Electronics recycling not only conserves energy, but also reduces GHG emissions. Did you know that recycling 1 million desktop computers could prevent the release of GHGs equivalent to the annual emissions of 16,000 passenger cars? By recycling your outdated electronics, you can help reduce the GHG emissions caused by manufacturing virgin materials, conserve resources, and prevent air and water pollution.

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What Products Are Made from Recycled Cell Phones?

Almost all of the materials used to manufacture a cell phone can be recovered to make new products. Metals, plastics, and rechargeable batteries from recycled cell phones are turned into new materials and products.

Cell phones contain a number of different metals – gold, silver, platinum, palladium, copper, tin, and zinc – that are recovered in the recycling process. The recovered metals are then used by a number of industries, such as jewelry, plating, electronics, automotive, and art foundries.

The plastics recovered from cell phones are recycled into plastic components for new electronic devices or other plastic products such as garden furniture, license plate frames, non-food containers, and replacement automotive parts.

When the rechargeable battery can no longer be reused, the battery can be recycled into other rechargeable battery products.

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