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  • The Word “E-Waste” – Overused & Inaccurate

    The Word “E-Waste” – Overused & Inaccurate

    I have been in the ITAD industry for over 20 years, and my single biggest pet peeve is the use of the word “e-waste” to describe decommissioned IT hardware and other unneeded or unwanted electronics. Unfortunately, the term has become so synonymous within the electronics recycling industry, that several companies even place the word in their name.

    And it is wrong.

    Waste is defined as “material that is not wanted; the unusable remains or byproducts of something.” The last time I checked, that is NOT an accurate description of electronics. Can someone explain to me why this term is still so common?

    Electronics simply is not “e-waste”. Whether they are whole units or parted out, many electronics can be refurbished and reused. Reuse is the best form of recycling and is by far the best way to extend a product’s lifespan. Electronics are so easily and often replaced that always buying new, and discarding the old, is not a sustainable practice and certainly not in the best interest of our planet or economy.

    Nearly all the materials that make up end-of-life electronics can be recycled safely. Commodities that can be recovered from electronics include gold, silver, copper, lithium, palladium, aluminum, steel, mercury, and plastic, just to name a few.

    There is enough demand for both refurbished electronics and recycled commodities to make a sound economic case for the value of so-called e-waste. Using recycled materials reduces the production cost of new goods, lowers C02 emissions, and puts less strain on the planet’s natural resources, compared to sourcing virgin material.

    It’s simple: Electronics that are being reused on the secondary market or properly recycled for their commodities are not going to waste! The only true “e-waste” are the electronics that are still ending up in landfills or e-waste “graveyards” around the world because of irresponsible and often illegal handling of those electronics. No one benefits from the space they take up or the pollution they cause when they are left to decompose – a process that can take thousands of years.

    Refurbishing, reusing, and recovering precious commodities are the opposite of wasteful. Any recycling company that treats old hardware as simply “waste” or call it “e-waste” should raise flags for anyone looking to retire their assets.

    Your image and brand are too valuable to risk.


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