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Amateur Electronic Waste Recycling – A Dirty Business

March 24, 2015

circuit boards and cordsAmateur recycling is an incredibly dangerous activity, that provides financial gain by putting your own health at risk. This form of recycling goes beyond recycling newspapers and aluminum cans to help the environment. Instead, it focuses on recycling electronic waste. Often with disastrous results.

We should note that electronics recycling is a good thing, when it handled in a processing plant from experienced individuals. This helps to keep dangerous chemicals from entering the ground water as it leaks from old computers, televisions and other electronics. For example, a broken motherboard may have mercury in it that can seep into your skin and lead to mercury poisoning. This is avoided by handling the motherboard with care and properly treating the entire unit.

The Reward Doesn’t Justify the Risk

But why do people put themselves in harm way for this form of recycling? The answer is greed. Old electronics use small amounts of gold to function. That makes this electronic waste enticing to individuals who want to make a quick buck. For the risk, the payout is certainly worth it. Right?

The truth is that these amateur recyclers are putting their health on the line for $9. In comparison, the treatment for mercury poisoning is $15,000. Considering that most electronic waste contains high levels of mercury, the $9 just isn’t worth the risk of spending $15,000 for treatment.

This doesn’t stop people around the world from trying their hand at electronics recycling. In India, the poor actively shift through this waste. With a tough economy, shifting through the waste offers some degree of financial compensation. Even Africa has its own problem with amateur recyclers trying to make a profit on this waste.

Even the United States is plagued with this problem. Local amateur recyclers have started to scan our local landfills in an effort to find discarded electronics. Using dangerous substances like methyl hydrate and muriatic acid, they break down the devices so the gold is exposed. Methyl hydrate is a deadly substance that is found in antifreeze and it also can be converted to formaldehyde.

Illustration of acid rainMuriatic acid can cause a deadly mist to form. This is corrosive to human tissue and can also cause devastating damage to the lungs. If not properly combined with methyl hydrate. The reaction is life threatening. Unfortunately, the recyclers still are not looking at the dangerous big picture.

Recycle The Right Way

If you want to be a part of the recycling effort, without putting your health at risk there are options. Some websites will buy old devices from you to refurbish them. This cuts down on the amount of waste that goes into the landfills. You can also contact professionals like Planet Green Recycle to help.

At Planet Green, we pay you for your electronics and other e-waste items, in order to help keeping these items them out of landfills. We’ve paid out over $50 million to people around the globe that have joined the recycling efforts. Together, we can help to protect the planet, all without having to compromise the health of anyone through safe recycling. That’s another reason why you should only go with a trusted recycling partner.

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