Where’s this going?

Where’s this going?

By: Tony White Okay, so truth time.  This blog entry started out to be one of those “Year-End Recap” or “Starting 2013 Off on the Right Foot” blogs that seem so popular this time of year. As is often the case when the internet and I interact, I was quickly sidetracked. I came across an article on LinkedIn, which for the life of me I cannot find now.  What’s more, I can’t even really remember what it was about.  Anyway, I somehow ended up coming across a blog post on Treehugger.com (gotta love the internet and its power of distraction). The article got me thinking, this seems to be a time of year when a lot of people are getting new mobile gadgets.  That was me a year ago.  What’s going on with the old items that the new ones are replacing? I was shocked to learn the fate of 90% of the mobile phones being replaced.  The EPA estimates less than 10% of mobile phones are recycled.  What was even more shocking to me; they estimate that only about 25% of all e-waste is recycled at all. As if that’s not bad enough, Electronic Take Back Coalition (ETBC) estimates that 50-80% of the electronics that are collected for recycling are exported to developing countries where the reclamation process is… well… ummm… let’s just say, at best – primitive. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report in August 2008 (yes, I said 2008) that  found “a substantial amount ends up in countries such as China and India, where they are often handled and disposed of unsafely. These countries often lack the capacity to safely handle and dispose of  used electronics if the units are not in reusable condition when received, and the countries’ extremely low labor costs and the reported lack of effective environmental controls make unsafe recycling commonplace.” (GAO report). It doesn’t seem conditions have improved much in the time since the report was released. This blog seems to have taken a turn towards “preachy.”  That is certainly not my intent. CompuCycle has a great info graphic on The Power of E-Cycling. Here are some ideas for the next time you’re thinking about parting with your e-waste. Make sure you clear sensitive data before you donate.  You can get some tips in this Planet Green.com article. Make sure you donate responsibly.  Here’s a list to get you started (make sure to scroll down the page a little). Finally, (ah ha … light is shed on how my internet journey found its roots), if you haven’t made enough New Year’s resolutions for 2013, Treehugger.com has some tech resolutions for you.

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