Electronic waste represents 2% of America’s trash. But it accounts for 70% of the overall toxic waste entering landfills and illegal dumpsites. Americans throw away 22 to 55 million tons of e-waste each year, which is comparable to throwing away 1,000 laptops every second. 

Eighty to 85% of e-waste makes it into landfills or incinerators. It releases toxic metals into the air and groundwater like cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium and nickel, which poisons people and animals.

Globally, we throw away 416,000 smartphones every day. From the cell phones put in the trash in the U.S., we toss about $344 million in gold, $46 million in silver and $10 million in copper.

These shocking statistics come from Joel Patterson, founder of The Vested Group, a business management consultant in Plano. The Vested Group and HOBI International will host an electronics recycling event on Earth Day — Thursday, April 22. 

The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Vested Group — 1001 18th St. in Plano. At last year’s event, they collected nearly eight tons of e-waste. 

They will accept some types of electronics but not others that may be recyclable because they may not have enough space and weight capacity for them.

They will accept printers, computer monitors, TV’s, telephones, cell phones, game systems, computers and peripherals, as well as handheld devices like GPS’s and MP3 players. But they won’t accept automotive batteries, VCR tapes, cassette tapes, white goods like refrigerators, washers and dryers, and household electronic devices like hard dryers, toasters and coffee makers. 

Electronics are recycled in different ways depending on the item and its condition. Some recycled e-waste products can be refurbished or repaired. Some can be disassembled or demanufactured and used for other things.

But some of those are things you can do yourself.

To help reduce e-waste, Patterson said the first thing you can do is reduce how much you upgrade your electronics, such as not buying the new iPhone as soon as it comes out. The other thing you can do is try to fix your electronics if you can before throwing them out. 

“We like to put a new spin on an old recycling catchphrase — instead of reduce, reuse, recycle, we like to say reduce, repair, recycle,” Patterson said.

However, if you can’t fix it, then recycle it. But make sure you bring your electronics to a certified e-waste recycler to ensure the data on the electronic is erased and that it’s being recycled in an environmentally responsible way. To find a certified e-waste recycler, click here

“The Vested Group would like to be part of the solution to our planet’s e-waste challenges, and this recycling event is one thing we can do to bring awareness to this issue and make an impact on the amount of e-waste entering landfills,” Patterson said.

Bailey Lewis

Bailey Lewis recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and served as The OU Daily's news editor and enterprise editor. Previously, she was a summer 2020 news intern at the Malheur Enterprise,...