On the occasion of Earth Day, we reflect on a lurking issue – E-Waste. Often underestimated in size, global technological growth also produces an amazing amount of waste annually. When you think about the amount of devices that you have gone through, from PC hard drives to cellphones, and then multiply it by your neighborhood, city, country….where do all those electronics go?
When it comes to computers, monitors, tvs, mobile phones and other electronics, the good news is recycling and disposal programs are definitely more prominent the last few years (630 million pounds in 2016). But the growth in electronic trash is staggering. So much that even the United Nations has started initiatives to track and curb it (StEP – Solving The world’s E-waste Problem).
Here at CBL we deal with a fair amount of new and old digital electronics. Recycling and re-use initiatives are in place at all of our labs. In fact, disposal of our biggest e-waste candidate, hard drives, isn’t really an issue because we keep old HDDs for future part-use. Our inventory of parts worldwide exceeds 60,000 drives. Our interest in e-waste stems from both an environmental concern and a data security one. Hard drives aren’t thrown away always as they can be ‘wiped’ and used in other computers. The risk of private and confidential information on discarded drives continues to pose a serious security threat as there is no shortage of interested ‘parties’ from the world of organized crime and identity theft that would like to find treasures on your old computer. You can read more about threats to data security and theft here on Platter Chatter. Check out CBL Data Shredder for a free download utility to wipe hard drives clean securely and give you peace of mind when getting rid of an old drive or upgrading a computer.
And the drives that aren’t getting reused/recycled and are thrown to the trash? Many of them end up being shipped to dumping sites in far away lands like Ghana. Pieces are then burned and melted down for scrap, releasing huge amounts of toxins into the air, water and land. Dumps are often in slum areas and local people spend time looking through the dump for valuable parts and raw materials that can be extracted. Ghana is just one of the places where e-waste dumping is a problem and with the projections growing, e-wastelands are not a problem that’s going to go away.
Video previously featured on Platter Chatter: Examining E-Waste in Africa
As your need for more data storage, more electronics and more technology continues to grow, so does the looming question of what to do with all the discarded wares. This Earth Day, think about how you can recycle, protect yourself, your data and our planet – because as we’re all connected by these things, e-waste is our problem.
Category: helpful hints