Repair the Environment-An Expert's Guide to Recycling Appliances & Electronics

Millions of appliances and electronic equipment are disposed each year. Most appliances and electronics contain hazardous materials. They are not biodegradable, so recycling them is the smartest option. Due in part to the dumping of old or broken appliances of electronics, the size of landfills increasing and the threat of hazardous materials contaminating the soil and the environment increases as well. 

Selling the unwanted electronics and appliances to someone or buying recycled appliances is a choice that is environmentally friendly and economical. A method known as Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure or TCLP is used to measure the amount of hazardous waste spewed to the environment. More often than not, appliances and electronics contain hazardous substances such as antimony, copper, chromium, mercury, lead, and nickel. These substances often leach from the appliances and electronics over time, causing irreparable damage to the soil and the environment.

Some of the products that have violated the hazardous waste guidelines under the TCLP include CRT and LCD monitors, mobile phones, CPU’s, laptops, cordless phones, microwave ovens, VCR’s, DVD players, radios, and printers. Research has shown that the recycling of these items can bring about an environmental gain. Research has also revealed that recycling these goods are a better option than dumping them in landfills or incinerating them. Furthermore, it is not so easy to throw away bulky household appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers. The right thing to do is to recycle these items.

Recycling Appliances

Disposing appliances in a proper manner not only helps you to go green, it also saves energy. In this way, the harmful chemicals from appliances such as mercury, CFC’s, HCFC’s, and HFC’s are kept out of landfills and the atmosphere. Moreover, the resources found in appliances such as plastic, glass, oil, and steel are reused when they are recycled. In fact, more than 80% of household appliances in the US are recycled these days. Especially the plastic, steel, blowing agents, refrigerants, and oils are salvaged for using them in new products. Since most appliances are 75 percent steel by weight, the steel is often recycled too, saving resources. Both hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in air conditioners have a negative impact on soil, water, and air if they are not disposed properly.

Not all old appliances are useless in that they can be reused with little maintenance. There are charity organizations that accept old appliances and donate them to people who need them. Likewise, faulty appliances can be sent to a repair workshop. The workshop can use many of the spare parts of the appliance so it is always worth checking with a local workshop if it would take your old appliances. Some workshops may even pay some money.

Recycling Electronics

In many countries, disposing electronic waste is done by burning. This manner of disposal releases dangerous chemicals as well as metals in the air. Since electronic gadgets contain some extremely dangerous substances such as copper, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and cadmium, recycling them instead of burning them is a better option. Improper disposal methods of e-waste can lead to brain damage, birth defects or genetic disorders. Improper disposal of e-waste can also cause lead poisoning that can eventually cause paralysis in humans. The ground water even gets polluted by the toxic substances leached from electronic equipment.

Getting rid of electronics is a little easier, because of their relatively smaller size compared to many of the household appliances. However, the health hazard they pose is much higher. For the sake of the environment, it is not wise to dump electronic wastes like old cell phone, its batteries, digital cameras or video games with other wastes. Like household appliances, many electronic devices can also be reused. Old cell phones, home theatres or old computers can be used or donated to the needy after some repair. There are charities that collect such items and provide them to the needy.

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