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From smartphones and laptops to household appliances and industrial machinery, electronics are an integral part of our daily lives. However, as households and businesses have become more dependent on electronics, the increasing number of these devices and their shortening lifespans are causing electronic waste, or e-waste, to grow at an alarming rate.

A Brief History of Electronic Recycling

E-waste was first regulated in the United States in 1976 with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Because e-waste contains hazardous material, this law gave the EPA authority to regulate it, including its transportation and its storage. E-waste was further regulated with the Basel Convention on hazardous waste in 1989 after a series of environmental disasters caused by the lack of regulation of e-waste disposal. The European Union has also implemented the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) which took effect in 2003.

Electronic recycling as we think of it began in the 1990s as more consumer computers began entering—and then leaving—the market. Now, many manufacturers have implemented consumer e-waste recycling programs where consumers sell their used phones, laptops and tablets back for small amounts of money.

Social and Environmental Impacts of E-Waste

E-waste poses significant social and environmental challenges. Many electronics contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. When e-waste is not properly managed, these toxic substances can leach into the soil and water, causing long-term ecological damage and posing health risks to communities.

The social impacts are equally concerning. In many developing countries, where labor is cheaper and less regulated, informal e-waste recycling sectors have emerged. Workers in these sectors often operate under unsafe conditions, exposing themselves to harmful chemicals without adequate protection. This improper recycling causes environmental and health issues in the surrounding communities.

Economic Benefits of E-Waste Recovery

Despite the challenges, e-waste recovery presents significant economic opportunities. Properly recycled e-waste can be a valuable source of raw materials. Electronics contain precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium, which can be recovered and reused in manufacturing new devices. This not only reduces the need for mining new materials, which is often environmentally destructive, but also provides a sustainable supply of resources.

By recovering valuable materials from e-waste, companies lower production costs and improve their sustainability credentials. This is increasingly important as consumers become more environmentally conscious and demand greener products and practices from the brands they support.
The recycling industry also creates jobs. In countries with established e-waste recycling infrastructures, thousands of jobs have been created in the collection, sorting, and processing of electronic waste. Additionally, innovative recycling technologies and practices continue to emerge, driving economic growth and fostering technological advancements.

The rise of electronic waste is a complex global issue that requires coordinated efforts across governments, industries, and communities. While the environmental and social impacts are profound, there is also significant economic potential in e-waste recovery.

Managing E-Waste with CentricsIT

CentricsIT is an IT asset disposition provider, which means it works with businesses to recover costs when equipment is updated. By wiping, refurbishing and reselling, CentricsIT doesn’t just help businesses recover costs, it contributes to a circular economy by lengthening the life of equipment. With more than 17 years of experience in IT asset disposition services and hardware sales, we understand the value and potential of pre-owned devices, and we want to pass that value on to our customers.

Contact our experts to learn more.


We all know how IT ends.

Even the most cutting edge equipment becomes obsolete, but it still contains data that needs to be protected. A good ITAD plan keeps data safe, preventing breaches and leaks from your old devices. To learn more about ITAD planning, contact our team.