The Economic Benefits of E-Waste Recycling
E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing trash stream, and the scale of this problem is only accelerating. In 2019, over 48.6 million tons of e-waste were generated. Experts predict that the total amount of e-waste generated worldwide by 2030 will reach 67 million tons.
One of the best methods that can combat the growing stream of trash is recycling. Did you know that the benefits of recycling go far beyond environmental benefits? Well, now you know. In this post, we walk you through the economic benefits of recycling.
How Does Recycling Help the Economy
1. Financial Incentives
Do you have a bunch of old electronics lying around in your home or business? Companies such as Best Buy, Apple, and others now have trade-in programs. How does this work?
Basically, you take your old electronics to a local collection point that will help you get rid of your old electronics. Once you do so, you can walk away with gift cards, store credit, or even money in your pocket.
For example, if you’re 18 years or older, you can exchange your used electronics at participating Best Buy locations. In exchange for your old electronics, Best Buy will reward you with gift cards.
Before heading in, check the Best Buy trade-in program webpage. This will allow you to know the types of devices the retailer is accepting. This is because the categories change with time. You can also initiate the buyback online in exchange for Best Buy’s gift card.
2. Employment Opportunities
There are over 6.3 million unemployed people in the US. If the government ups its efforts of e-waste recycling, more jobs would be available. E-waste businesses employ hundreds or even thousands since their demise requires a large group of people. In fact, e-waste recycling creates 36 new jobs for every 10,000 tons of waste.
This is unlike dumping the waste in landfills which creates 6 jobs per 10,000 tons of waste. Thanks to the employment opportunities created, revenue generated helps to stimulate the economy. In 2020, revenue produced by the e-waste industry reached $49.4 billion.
If companies committed to recycling, we would reduce the mountains of e-waste full of hazardous materials.
3. Minimize Costs
According to the United Nations, between 10% to 50% of US e-waste is usually exported to other countries. EPA estimates 25% of e-waste gets exported from the US to developing countries. These countries lack the capacity of rejecting imports or handling hazardous waste.
As the US spends most of its e-waste overseas, they spend tax dollars. This is because they have to fuel gas-guzzling air carriers. If the US promotes the establishment of e-scrap recycling plants on its soil, it would stop relying on overseas landfills.
Not only that. The country will save on tax dollars and prevent chemical, air, land, and water pollution.
4. Precious Metal and Rare Earth Elements Recovery
Every year, billions of dollars worth of precious metals and rare earth elements end up in landfills worldwide. Precious metals used to make electronics include gold, copper, silver, platinum, and palladium. An ounce of palladium goes for $2,136, while an ounce of platinum is $948.
The cost of rare earth elements such as neodymium oxides is between $48,054 to $48,780. As you can see, billions of dollars worth of precious metals and rare earth elements get burned or dumped in landfills.
However, e-waste recycling can help recover these precious metals and rare earth elements. Every time you throw away a smartphone, tablet, laptop, smart TV, or any other device, you’re throwing away money.
Electronic waste recycling companies can strip the old electronics to retrieve these metals and elements. Manufacturers can then reuse these metals, which is a win-win!
Every day, the average American discards more than 40 pounds of waste. Given that more than 320 million people are living in the US, that is a lot of waste. E-waste harms the environment as the waste contains cadmium, lead, mercury, and other toxic elements.
Dumping e-waste in landfills means the toxic elements will find their way into our waterways, wetlands, and atmosphere. Luckily, there is something we can do, e-waste recycling, and it has some economic benefits.