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Albert Boufarah talks about 10 things you should know about e-waste

13th October 2021 Print
Albert Boufarah

The world is drowning in a flood of electronic waste. According to the United Nations, over 50 million tonnes of electronic materials became obsolete in 2014. This is not just an issue for people who want to unload their old devices, says Albert Boufarah, CEO of SAMR Inc. in Lakewood, NJ. It's a problem for everyone on Earth because electronic trash has toxic chemicals that can leak out and seep into our soil and water.

With more and more people getting rid of their electronic devices, what can you do to ensure that your e-waste doesn't end up in the environment?

What's in E-Waste?

According to FiveThirtyEight, consumers are holding onto their electronics longer than ever before. Good news for your old gadgets, but it also means there is an increased amount of outdated technology. That also means there are many more chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury entering our solid waste stream (the trash bin).

Old computers have plastic insulation with flame retardant chemicals in them. This is great if your computer caught on fire while using it but not so good when it goes into the landfill. You should know some things about electronic waste before you buy, sell, or discard it.

More Than 5.5 Million Tons of Electronic Waste were produced in 2020 alone.

Much of this is not recycled and is often sent to developing nations where children and adults mine for materials in polluted areas. This harmful waste doesn't only come from obsolete televisions, phones, or desktop computers, says Albert Boufarah, CEO of SAMR Inc., it can also be found in other common devices such as:

. Computer accessories like mice and keyboards

. Video Game Consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U

. Analog Audio Equipment like old stereos and boom boxes (remember those?)

. Portable music players such as iPods

E-waste is still the fastest-growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.

Do your best to stay up to date on technology and know when it's time for you to upgrade. Recycle your e-waste through a certified dealer or take advantage of a township or city recycling program.

E-Waste Contains Many Toxic Materials

When you get rid of your old gadgets, make sure to recycle them properly. According to Albert Boufarah., the EPA says to not place electronics in with recyclable paper, plastics, or yard waste because this can contaminate the recycling stream.

According to the University of Missouri, some of the harmful materials that are found in electronic devices include:

- Cadmium which is used in rechargeable batteries and semiconductors

- Lead which is found in circuit boards

- Mercury which is found in switches and thermal paste

- Beryllium which is often an alloying element for other metals

These are just a few examples, but many more chemicals are commonly used during the manufacturing process. 

E-Waste Accounts for Around 70% of Toxic Wastes In Landfills

E-waste not only contains toxic chemicals but they are also known to leach out from landfills. According to an EPA report, says Albert Boufarah, e-waste accounts for around 70 percent of the nation's overall toxic wastes in landfill sites. That's a very large chunk.

Much of this e-waste is in the form of discarded cell phones, computers, and other electronics. It's important to recycle these items properly. Otherwise, they will make their way back into our water supplies or seep down into the soil, where they can contaminate sources of drinking water.

E-Waste Also Contains a Lot of Gold and Silver

Gold and silver are two of the most precious metals that we use every day. They're used in many electronics, such as gold in computer circuits and silver in electrical contact. These metals can also leach out from landfills which is why it's important to recycle your e-waste properly.

It takes a lot of Raw Materials to Make New Electronics

It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor. According to the EPA, rare earth minerals are also mined in areas that are generally more impoverished, which can cause harm to local communities.

Data Security is a Concern

When you get rid of an old computer or phone, make sure that any personal information is completely removed. This includes anything from your tax return to your 10,000th Instagram photo.

Incineration Doesn't Work

A common way to get rid of e-waste is by incineration. But the EPA says this method generally doesn't work well because many toxic chemicals are very volatile and can be released into the air if they're not destroyed at high enough temperatures.

Small Devices are a Problem Too

Larger electronics such as old TVs and monitors tend to get the most attention when it comes to recycling, but small devices like laptops and calculators also need to be dealt with properly. These smaller items contain a lot of harmful chemicals too. 

Energy Savings are Not Always Worth It

It might seem like a good idea to upgrade your computer or phone so that it's more energy-efficient, but most reports show that the amount of energy saved is fairly negligible. The EPA says you'll save about 7 percent on your energy bill each year, so if you're looking for an easy way to save some money, then this isn't how to do it.


The next time you upgrade your phone or laptop, make sure to recycle it properly. This will make sure no harmful chemicals from your old electronics end up back in our water supply or soil, where they can affect aquatic lifeforms.

E-waste has a lot of bad effects on the environment, and it should be recycled responsibly. It takes a long time to create new electronics, and many raw materials go into production. It's also not a good idea to incinerate e-waste because then the chemical components could end up back in our drinking water supplies or soil, where they can harm aquatic lifeforms. This article may have been written by someone who shares this interest as well as an environmentalist perspective. Consider speaking with e-waste recycling companies like SAMR Inc. if you’re unsure about how to recycle your electronics properly.

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Albert Boufarah