E-Recycling vs Mining20
Should we really be mining our precious metals out of the ground, or should we be mining our e-waste instead? Find out as we compare e-recycling vs mining to look at the effects of both on our environment and our way of life.
Negative Impacts of Mining
Mining can be truly hard on the environment. From it, you can end up with sinkholes, erosion, soil contamination, water contamination, a loss of biodiversity, and worse. One of the primary reasons for this is due to waste created during the mining process. As an example, mining 1 ton of copper generates 99 tones of waste or tailings—as it’s called in the industry. And copper isn’t even the worst offender. Not all of these tailings are harmful to the environment, but they can release heavy metals, sulfides, and even radioactive material.
Are There Any Positives to Mining?
Ways to mine while being more environmentally conscious and friendly are on the rise. That’s a win for the environment, however, much of this is driven by government action. Sadly thou, this means, that often companies will go to other countries to do mining where there are fewer restrictions instead of adhering to sensible environmental protection laws.
One positive to mining is profitability. Often, e-recycling is not profitable. This means that for many forms of e-waste, e-recycling businesses have to charge a small price to be able to re-sell those metals on the market.
How Much do We E-Recycle Now?
Every year, we discard over 50 million tons of e-waste. Of that, currently only 20% is correctly recycled. The rest is thrown in the trash. Unfortunately, discarding it in garbage bins for it all to just be sent off to landfills makes the precious materials notoriously hard to recover. Are we at risk of running out of any materials because of this? Eventually, everything runs out, but some materials are set to run out sooner than others.
What Materials Could We Run Out Of?
According to a recent BBC article, there are 6 materials that we could run out of within the upcoming decades. Gallium, arsenic, silver, indium, yttrium, and tantalum are all at risk. You can find these materials in all sorts of electronics and more.
Read More: Can You Recycle TVs?
E-Recycling is a Global Equalizer
Let’s be honest here, most of your electronics do not come from the United States. They are produced out of the country and overseas. Part of this is just a part of the globalized economy that we live in, but some of it comes down to a lack of mining facilities in the U.S. How do you fix that without opening up more mining facilities?
You guessed it, e-recycling. Think about it. These materials are mined overseas and then shipped over here as assembled goods. Once they lose their usefulness, we can extract those materials back out, and then those materials are here in the U.S. without any local mining.
Can E-Recycling Ever Replace Mining?
From a purely academic standpoint, assuming the population keeps growing, and the demand for more electronics continues to increase, we will always have to add more materials into the supply chain through the mining of some sort, but replacing mining isn’t what we are trying to do here.
Don’t get us wrong. We have a love for the mining industry. We wouldn’t be where we are now as a civilization—and a company—without mining, and we know that it will never be able to go away entirely. However, one thing is abundantly clear, if we rely solely on mined materials to make new goods, the scarcity of materials will only rise, and mining will not be able to keep up.
How Can You E-Recycle?
E-recycling is a thing that we can all do. If you have old electronics sitting around the house, you can start by recycling those, and it’s a good thing for all of us to do, but you have the ability to make a larger impact than that. You can be an e-recycling ambassador where you work, the businesses you frequent, and the organizations you are a part of. Every business has that back room where old IT equipment lurks, and often when they get rid of it, it ends up in the trash. Do what you can to prevent that from happening.
Where to E-Recycle Near You
E-recycling isn’t like other forms of recycling. Your local municipality likely doesn’t provide any e-recycling services, instead, you have to rely on businesses like Sadoff E-Recycling & Data Destruction. We have locations in Wisconsin and Nebraska and provide affordable e-recycling rates along with data destruction and even an e-recycling alternative for a business called IT asset remarketing where we refurbish and resell IT equipment after destroying any data.
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Categorized in: Electronics Recycling, Sustainability