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4 Tips for Minimizing e-Waste

Throw an old cell phone in a drawer; leave an old TV at the curb for the garbage truck. Most of us do it without much thought. But did you ever think of what happens to all those gadgets after we deem them obsolete?

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that up to 50 million tons of e-waste is collected in landfills each year, and that number is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. Many of these items contain mercury, cadmium, lead and other hazardous materials that can pollute the soil and water.

Largest Annual e-Waste Producers
(in pounds per capita)
1. Norway  62.4
2. Switzerland 58.0
3. Iceland 57.3
4. Denmark 52.9
5. Great Britain 51.8
9. United States 48.7
   Source: Statista 

While we can’t entirely eliminate it, there are steps each of us can take to minimize our e-waste footprint:

  1. Don’t feel you have to get the latest and greatest gadgets right when they come out. Use your current ones through their full life expectancies.
  2. If you must upgrade, gift the old device to someone, donate it to charity or sell it.
  3. When you purchase a new device, find one that is environmentally friendly by looking for the Energy Star label. Also, Greenpeace offers the Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles on how green they are.
  4. Use an e-waste recycler that is certified through the Basel Action Network (BAN), a not-for-profit group dedicated to certifying responsible recyclers of electronics. You can also visit Earth911.com to find a certified recycler in your area.

Finally, however you dispose of your electronic gadgets, don’t forget to first permanently delete all personal information. And remember: By donating old computer equipment to a not-for-profit, you may be eligible for a tax deduction on the non-depreciated amount.

Ryan Berman is a Senior Audit Manager providing domestic and international accounting, auditing and business consulting services to public and private clients in a variety of industries.

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