TMCnet Feature
April 29, 2020

Brian Younker Explains The Benefits of Electronic Recycling



When it comes to the issue of waste, people often think of single-use plastics (such as straws) first. But there's another type of waste that's ending up in landfills regularly — namely electronics, which accounts for more than 2% of landfill material in the U.S.



But it doesn't have to, notes Brian Younker, an entrepreneur in Tinley Park, Illinois, and the catalyst behind the Orland Township Electronic Recycling Program. Since starting the electronic recycling at Orland Township Highway Department recycled over 2.8 Million pounds of electronics (Television’s, computers, stereos etc.)

Otherwise known as "e-waste", people regularly throw away electronics that are out-of-date or no longer working, but could have a second life, he says. And it's not just the volume of e-waste ending up in landfills that's the concern — it's that it is highly toxic and can leach into the soil and groundwater. Older electronics in particular are made up of toxic materials including lead, mercury, cadmium, and chromium.

The Orland Township Electronic Recycling Program collects used computers, cell phones, and even cables and adapters, all of which can be averted from the garbage stream, Brian Younker explains. 

Recoverable Materials

Hiding inside common electronics are a wide range of materials that can be used in other products. Among these materials is copper, aluminum — and even gold and silver — along with plastic and glass, notes Brian Younker.

Recycling also limits the need for these finite resources to be mined again. In the process, natural resources are spared, and the amount of pollution and production waste can be reduced as well.

To add some context, for every million cell phones, there's more than 700 pounds of silver inside. Also, he notes that there's enough energy saved from every million laptops that are recycled to power more than 3,500 homes — for a year.

Privacy Protection

There's another issue with throwing electronics into the trash without a second thought. Many of these devices — from cell phones to old computer towers — contain sensitive information that can still be recovered even when you "wipe" them. That means banking information, photos and other private info could fall into the wrong hands.

As part of Orland Township's Electronic Recycling Program, Brian Younker also hosts shredding events to help protect people's data from being used for identity theft and other illegal activities. With shredding, the device is completely destroyed so there's no chance of information being retrieved, he adds.

In a typical e-recycling process, the various materials such as metals and plastics in an electronic device are separated and then introduced back into the production process as raw materials.

Think Twice About Tossing Electronics in Trash, says Brian Younker

It's tempting to toss old electronic devices into the trash and forget about them, says Brian Younker. Instead of tossing old phones and computers, be sure to look up local electronic recycling programs such as the Orland Township Electronic Recycling Program, he notes. By averting e-waste from landfills, the country can cut down on emissions and save valuable resources, he adds.

While it may seem like a hassle to recycle electronics, it has never been more simple.



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