Published On: Wed, Sep 22nd, 2021

SAMR Inc President Albert Boufarah, Discusses The e-waste Problem in The United States

The United States is the second-largest producer of electronic waste (e-waste) globally, and the amount of it generated is growing exponentially. Albert Boufarah, founder & President of leading electronics & computer recycler SAMR Inc., points out that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that America will produce more than 80 million tons of e-waste on an annual basis. So, what exactly constitutes e-waste? Why is it such an issue in America? And how we can make changes to reduce our waste output for future generations to come?

The definition of e-waste varies depending on who you ask: some say anything over ten years old qualifies while others refer only to material like computers and cell phones. Regardless of your definition, one thing is for sure: our landfills are (often illegally) filling up with electronics at an alarming rate. It is estimated that only 12.5% of e-waste generated domestically is recycled, and countries abroad like China, India, and Pakistan are taking advantage of this by accepting our unwanted old material as exports.

Most Americans now own more than three electronic devices, and all those items will eventually reach the end of their life cycles.. With so many devices needing to be plugged in daily, it’s easy to see how our homes & offices can quickly become tangled nests of obsolete technology. We’ve become so dependent on these devices that some may even have lines of chargers plugged into several power outlets at once.

innovation sign

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

What is e-waste?

As Albert Boufarah of SAMR Inc. explains, e-waste refers to all discarded electrical or electronic devices. These items are typically anything with a battery or plug and including cell phones, iPods/mp3 players, computers & components (CPUs, monitors), power cords/surge protectors, laptops, printer & fax machine parts, stereos and speakers, microwaves, ovens, or any electric or battery-powered item that is no longer in use.

Why is e-waste a problem?

Despite the amount of state & federal laws on the books regarding e-waste, a startling amount of material still ends up being placed improperly (and often illegally) in landfills & other areas where they can cause damage to their surroundings. Albert Boufarah of SAMR Inc. brings up that this has become a pressing federal issue, going on to point out that many less experienced & non-certified e-waste recyclers still send their materials overseas for processing. With technology advancing at a quicker pace than ever before, the need for proper e-waste recycling is imperative before the amount of unprocessed materials becomes unsustainable.

What can you do about e-waste?

There are several small steps everyone can take to help keep e-waste from ending up where it doesn’t belong:

Re-evaluate your need for new technology.

Your current device may not have all the latest bells & whistles, but chances are it works just as well, and holding on to it a little longer will save money & reduce the imminent need to manufacture a new device. If your devices no longer serve your needs, recycle them at an e-waste specialist like SAMR Inc. In addition, many communities have events where old electronics can be dropped off and properly disposed of throughout the year. 

Repair what you can

If something isn’t broken or damaged but just needs some TLC, try taking it to a repair shop first before you consider tossing it to buy something new. Albert Boufarah of SAMR Inc. says that repairing or refurbishing technology is one of the easiest and most effective steps one can take.

Do your research

Don’t just buy the least expensive computer, cell phone, etc., without exploring & weighing out your options. It’s often more economical to purchase your products from companies that invest in creating devices with recyclable parts. Not only is it a sign that they care about our planet, it also says that they’re doing their part to help keep the costs of newer devices down.

Prolong the life span of your devices

Make sure you properly back up all your data and perform updates to the latest software, or switch to using an alternative like Google Drive or Dropbox. This will keep your device operating in tip top shape and also act as a barometer for when it will ultimately slow down & function less efficiently.

Properly recycle e-waste at established recycling facilities

It never hurts to check online or ask a friend where you can safely dispose of unwanted electronics. Albert Boufarah of SAMR Inc. mentions that the EPA created the “Recycle Nation” program to help educate the public about recycling, where to find recycling centers accepting electronics, and much more. If finding a facility close to you proves challenging, you will find that other alternatives will be available. Responsibly recycling your obsolete devices has never been easier or more accessible to all.

Final Thoughts

Electronic waste is an issue that continues to plague the world. By becoming more cognizant of how it is created and what we can do to curtail it, each one of us can do our part to bring this critical situation under control.

Author: Jamie Cartwright

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