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Recycling is the Solution to Growing E-Waste Problem. But is it the Only Way Out now?

Looking for e-waste recycling center? Well, you probably might have recycled many common office materials like the printer paper, cans and bottles. But how about the old electronic items? Office equipment comprises of financially valuable and environmentally harmful material and components and when such equipment are no longer to use at work, it is termed as electronic waste, or e-waste. What is Electronic Waste? E-waste is a broad category that encompasses all sorts of electronics, many of which are commonly found in the workplace:

• Computers, monitors and other computing equipment

• Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets

• Audiovisual equipment, like TVs and stereos

• Imaging equipment, including printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines

• Metering devices

• Rechargeable batteries

• Microwaves, ovens, refrigerators and other kitchen appliances Even valuable materials such as call, oil-based plastics and precious metals are used in office equipment. These materials can be easily used again or reused so that it can benefit your company financially. How to find an E-Waste Recycler? There are many manufacturers and retailers that recycle old electronics, such as the third party authentic members of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge. You just have to approach the manufacturer or the vendor of your old equipment to check if they will take the old equipment for recycling it. And if still you fail, you can always visit an e-waste recycling center. The EPA certifies electronics recycling companies under the following two standards-

• Responsible Recycling Standard for Electronic Recyclers

• E-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment

You can make use of either or both the standards to find the potential recycling partners to ensure they carry out safe material management, human health, the environment and the reuse of recoverable materials. US Laws that Governs Electronic Waste You will not find any federal law in the U.S. that directs the recycling of e-waste or prohibits electronic waste from being exported to the developing countries. 28 states and the district of Columbia have their own electronic recycling laws, which however differ in their approaches. There are some states that subcontract with companies to carry out a collection system in the entire state; while others need manufacturers to meet the minimum recycling targets on the basis of sales. The main problem with the blend of laws is that no one state has enough market share to force manufacturers to design eco-friendly and greener products. By contrast, the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive depicts the complete EU market and thus possess the power to set higher standards for all economic products sold in the European Union. Moreover, its laws requiring manufacturers to help pay for recycling have resulted in an e-waste rate of 35%, which is higher than that of the US. A federal law in the U.S. could help develop a stronger e-waste recycling infrastructure through setting targets and establishing financing schemes for collection systems and recycling plants. It could also provide a rebate to the companies that process their used devices, and help prevent the export of e-waste to the developing nations. However, a federal law is not likely to come into play under this administration. The Urge for Multiple Solutions for a Single Problem With the flood of electronic waste growing all across the world, recycling alone will not be just enough to tackle a gigantic problem as this. There are some ideas and solutions that are being researched, considered and even practiced all over the world. E-waste recycling center is a good option but some of the other options include: • Design better products- Design electronics that are safer, durable, repairable and recyclable.

• The right to repair- Apart from recycling, repairing and reusing the devices is a brilliant option.

• Extended Producer Responsibility- It requires companies that make products to be more responsible for management and disposal of them at the end of their lives. The idea is to convert waste materials into a resource for creating new products.