Sadly, 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide every year. Only 12.5% of that e-waste is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills releasing harmful toxins into the air. Most of the e-waste in America is sent to developing countries to be disposed of, but it is seldom done responsibly and contributes to toxins released into our environment.
When appliances are dumped into landfills, they start releasing toxins including:
- Greenhouse gases – these include carbon dioxide and methane.
- Ozone-depleting substances – these are found in refrigerators and coolants.
- Mercury, oil, and polychlorinated biphenyls.
You can keep your appliances from ending up in landfills and incinerators by responsibly recycling them. It may not be as simple as recycling other items – there are no bins you can pop your fridge into. It’s a little more complex than that but it can be done.
- Take-back schemes. As companies go greener, they’re offering this service more and more. When you purchase a new stove or washing machine, the company will remove the old one and either use the parts or dispose of it responsibly. Before purchasing a new appliance, research which companies in your area offer take-back schemes and invest in those companies over those who do not offer these schemes.
- Look for an appliance recycler in your area or find out if your city offers a recycling program. You will find organizations dedicated to the recycling of appliances. Some may dismantle the appliances for parts. There may be a small fee for them to collect your appliance, but you will have peace of mind that it is being disposed of responsibly.
- If your appliance is still working, or can easily be fixed, consider selling it. You can list the device on Facebook Marketplace or your local community groups. When you list the appliance, be upfront about any issues it may have. This option will extend the life of the appliance and you’ll make some money at the same time.
- Donate the appliance. Not all charities and charity shops will accept used appliances, but some do. Again, this will extend the life of your device and is a way of giving back. If you are going to donate the appliance, make sure it is in good working order.
- Sell the parts. You can sell your old appliances to scrapping companies that recycle ferrous metals (steel and iron). The Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program was created specifically to reduce appliance waste.
What devices can be recycled?
- Air conditioners
- Air fryers
- Clothes dryers
- Coffee makers
- Convection ovens
- Food processors
- Garbage disposal units
- Microwave ovens
- TV sets
- Vacuum cleaners
Before dumping your appliance, consider how you could responsibly dispose of it to reduce the negative impact it has on the environment. Recycling, reselling, and donating your appliances are all easy ways for you to responsibly get rid of your device!