For any apartment, waste management can be a real problem, and managing e-waste (electronic waste) separately has become almost non-existent. Out of ignorance and haste, residents tend to mix up waste, not just wet and dry, but electronic waste as well. This is causing a major inconvenience to garbage collectors who are later forced to handle this toxic waste.
It is important to keep in mind that electronic wastes must be kept out of landfills. Electronic devices are made of heavy metals and contain toxic and harmful substances such as mercury, lead, chromium, and cadmium. These harmful substances cannot find their way into the soils which will contaminate water and air, and hence, e-waste must be recycled to save landfills.
Besides doing a huge favour to the environment, recycling e-waste can also save a ton of energy. When an apartment adopts appropriate measure to manage its e-waste, it is also taking a step towards saving some electricity bills.
Identifying recyclable and non-recyclable waste
Experts reveal that all e-waste has some amount or form of materials that can be recycled including materials such as metals, plastic, glass, etc. These might be ‘junk’ to regular consumers but they do serve some economic purposes.
Studies reveal that creating one brand-new monitor and computer can take around 22 kgs of chemicals, 240 kgs of fossil fuel and 4300 litres of water. By recycling used computers and monitors, we can save a lot of energy effectively prevent the use of pure materials that are required to manufacture new devices.
We should also keep in mind we cannot recycle few materials like toner cartridge and ink, hazardous liquids and materials, and alkaline batteries, etc.
Processing Electronic Waste
Separating the waste materials efficiently is the key to successful e-waste recycling and management in larger apartments. The e-wastes are first shredded and this helps with the separation and sorting of plastics from internal circuitry and metals. Then the separated wastes are further shredded and go through another sorting process.
Once the various components are sorted, the extracted materials are now raw materials that can be sent to manufacture new devices.
From the non-recyclable waste, the useful materials and extracted and further processed to create new materials. For instance, 34 kgs of gold, 350 kgs of silver, 16000 kgs of copper and 15 kgs of palladium can be extracted from a million recycled mobile phones.
E-Waste management tips
To best implement apartment e-waste management, it is prudent to follow the recycle, refurbish and reuse concept. Likewise, opting for minimalism helps greatly with e-waste management. When your electronic items are working just fine, avoid purchasing new ones just for the sake of it. It not only saves some money but will do good to the environment as well.
Another great tip is – reuse as much as possible. Electronic items can be repaired and used for years, and they can also be handed down. Go for the latest electronic gadgets only when you really need them.
And lastly, get in touch with people who are into this. Toll-free numbers shared by recycling agents are all over the internet. Connect with them to learn about the nearest e-waste collection centre. Management Committee can also assign a separate storeroom for collecting e-waste and then have the recyclers collect it later. It is also a great idea to partner with e-waste management companies and conduct regular sessions on e-waste management.
Ways to prevent toxic effects created by e-waste
Toxic effects created by electronic waste can be prevented by effectively recycling, reselling, reusing and refurbishing electronic devices. As a resident/member, you can do the following for efficient e-waste management in your apartment.
- When you are buying a new gadget, check if the lifespan of the product and if it’s recyclable. The longer the product lasts, the lesser, the waste will be.
- Instead of trashing the used electronics, go to an authorised refurbisher or reseller or exchange the product online.
These are the little ways one can implement to minimise electronic waste, especially in a gated community. E-waste management can look like a huge task, but when implemented correctly in can have a positive impact on the whole community.