Electronics recycling certifications are important because they were developed to protect three things: the environment, employees, and data security.
When electronics are recycled improperly through incineration or landfilling, the chemicals in them, such as lead and mercury, can contaminate the soil, water, and air. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can have negative effects, including damage to the nervous system, kidneys, bones, the reproductive and endocrine systems, and cancer. Electronics are improperly recycled all over the world.
The image below is in Ogbogbloshie, in Ghana, Africa, where electronics are burned outside in open areas, having catastrophic impacts on the land, water, animals, and residents. Certifications, such as R2/RIOS require that e-recyclers only send material to facilities that process electronics with worker health and safety and environmental standards in place.
Another way certifications protect the environment is by promoting reuse. The global demand for electronics is rapidly increasing, as well as the speed at which devices are replaced. When electronics go to certified facilities, commodities are extracted for use in new products or the whole unit is refurbished for reuse. In turn, we decrease our environmental footprint because we don’t need to mine new minerals.
The following image is of miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where most of the world’s supply of minerals used for the manufacturing of electronics comes from.
Unsafe conditions for employees is an issue that plagues the industry in areas of the world where recycling is not monitored. In the U.S., warehouses have risks too. However, certified e-recyclers are required to have sound management practices including safety procedures for warehouses and workers to mitigate risks. For example, workers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE), seen in the image below, to guard against workplace hazards. Also, the level of toxins in any e-recycling warehouse are monitored to ensure levels are safe for employees.
3. Data Security
Certifications require e-recyclers to handle all data destruction in accordance with all international, national, and state laws that apply to data destruction. Furthermore, e-recyclers must provide documented proof that they are familiar with these national and state laws. This ensures data stored in IT assets is protected until destroyed properly.
For recyclers to be certified, third party auditors check facilities and records annually. Certifications allow people to have peace of mind when choosing a recycler for their electronics. They can trust that their electronics will be handled responsibly. Certifications also foster innovation for better recycling methods and raise the overall performance bar. The number of recyclers and refurbishes implementing safe and sustainable standards continues to increase. Certification has been, and will continue to be, an effective means for increasing awareness in the marketplace, and changing the collective mindset regarding the importance of safer and more sustainable practices for electronics reuse and recycling.
If you have any electronics recycling needs or questions feel free to call Sunnking, Inc. at 585-637-8365 or email us at [email protected]. You can also learn more by visiting our website at www.sunnking.com.