When was the last time your business just tossed old batteries or electronics out with the regular garbage? If your answer is anything but “never,” you should know that doing so is expressly dangerous and harmful to the environment. Battery acid, plastics, lead, cadmium, beryllium, and even mercury all leach away from these electronics when they reach landfills instead of being property recycled. This can lead to serious harm for garbage processors, the Earth, animals, and even people, too. If you’re still not convinced why it matters that you don’t toss that last-generation iPhone in the trash, these high-impact dangers of improper handling should change your mind. Read more How Recycling Adds Up, One Phone at a Time.
Poisoned Water Tables
E-waste items like computers and smartphones often contain potentially harmful substances like lead and mercury. While they aren’t harmful to humans within these devices, once they begin to break down they can cause significant harm to water tables. As they leach through the ground, the contamination goes largely unnoticed. It can be decades later after multiple devices break down before local environmental protection agencies even notice the problem. In more than one instance, e-waste has directly influenced lead levels in drinking water, something that can lead to severe illness and even death.
Complex Water Contamination
The risk for a contamination problem rises steeply in landfills near lakes, streams, oceans, or coastline. Water can carry contaminants for tens or hundreds of miles, harming the ecosystem all along its path. In areas where farmland lies downstream, these contaminants can even infiltrate food crops, putting humans at real risk. Rising mercury levels in tuna is one example of this in practical application.
Harm to Local Flora and Fauna
It isn’t just water supplies that suffer when e-waste is improperly handled; local flora and fauna can suffer, too. Plants and animals can struggle with the same risks and hazards as humans, and have the additional potential risk of ingestion, too. Seabirds in particular are under high risk to eat small watch batteries or devices assuming they’re food; one the battery breaks down within the stomach it can kill them. High levels of certain minerals and metals can also stunt or kill plants, disturbing the local ecosphere dramatically.
Increased Cancer Rates
There is at least some evidence to prove that certain elements within e-waste may be teratogenic. This includes the cadmium found in computer chips and the beryllium found on motherboards. Used within computers the risk of harm is minute, but again issues can arise when old e-waste begins to break down. Depending on the substance, the release of teratogenic or carcinogenic materials could directly harm garbage sorters or may even enter the atmosphere if toxins are heated or burned within landfills.
Though research continues into just how grave the potential risk may be, most scientists agree that the sheer volume of e-waste that isn’t recycled today is, in fact, a problem. Implementing a business recycling program is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce your potential ecological footprint. Best of all, it could even help you to recoup or reduce overall costs as well.
Reach out to Ever Green Environmental today to learn how an e-waste recycling program can benefit you, your employees and the environment.