The Hidden Environmental Cost of Electronic Office Equipment

21 Feb 2022
Electronic office equipment’s hidden environmental cost

We live in a digital world where electronics are all around us. And we often update or upgrade those devices for newer, better ones. Consider how many types of smartphones are out there. Statista reports that over a billion smartphones were sold in 2020, and the revenue from the industry has risen from 18 billion USD to 73 billion USD in the last decade. That is just one of the devices that we as consumers regularly buy or upgrade.

It’s the same for businesses; the technology used in offices today will usually be replaced in a few years. Unfortunately, that creates a lot of electronic waste (or e-waste). Unwanted or outdated electronic office equipment is not something many people think about, but it can add up and create a problem for the environment.

Environmental Problems Posed by Electronic Office Equipment

Discarding your electronic office equipment needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully, as these items often contain hazardous materials that can leak into the environment and pose a danger to people and animals. Here are some of the ways that e-waste can pose a risk:

Water Supply

When office equipment is discarded and left in a landfill, it presents a hazard to the environment. Wood and metal resources are left wasting away, and plastics (which don’t decompose) can leak toxic chemicals into the environment, particularly into the groundwater. This water makes its way into lakes, rivers, and even municipal water supplies. It can also pool in nearby wells that farmers and other people in rural communities rely on for drinking.

Soil Contamination

Leaving e-waste in landfills also presents a real problem for the soil and crops grown in the area. Hazardous materials that leak from electronics contaminate the ground and can kill or harm crops that are in the region. It also ruins soil from future crop growth, as the toxins will not simply disappear quickly.

Air Quality

Another risk of electronic office equipment is air contamination. When electronic items are dismantled to be recycled, they can emit particles that contain toxic elements. These toxins can cause breathing and lung problems in anyone in that environment.

Opting to recycle and reuse parts of electronic office equipment can reduce this risk and make the most of our global resources.

Tips for Buying More Environmentally-Conscious Products

There are many good reasons to consider alternatives when buying business electronics, including air quality, environmental risks, and energy efficiency. Here are some things to consider if you’re looking for more environmentally-conscious electronics for your business.

  • Indoor Air Quality

    Your business electronics can produce air pollutants that hinder the quality of the indoor air in your office. Elements like dust, paper debris, toner residue, etc. can cause health issues like asthma, throat irritation, or breathing problems. When looking to add a new piece of electronic equipment to your office, consider searching for one that reduces the indoor air pollutants produced.

  • Hazardous Materials

    Many of the newer electronics are made with less toxic substances, but older units may contain hazardous materials that present a risk to the environment. When you decide to discard your unwanted business electronics, they will likely end up in a landfill. Sitting in a landfill, these devices start to rust and decay, leaking toxic substances that make their way into the groundwater. It then becomes a serious health risk to people and animals who drink the water. Investing in electronics that have less hazardous material means less risk when they reach the end of their useful life.

  • Energy Efficiency

    Business electronics are often left running even when they are not in use. It becomes a real drain on your energy usage. The production and process of creating and supplying your business with energy is a costly one for the environment. Some energy-making procedures create greenhouse gasses, destroy natural habitats, and use up nonrenewable resources. Being conscious of these challenges can help you make better choices for your business and the environment. It can be as simple as remembering to turn off all your electronics when they are not in use.

  • Waste

    Buy items that can be recycled or broken down and the parts reused when the product reaches its end of life. This can significantly cut back on the e-waste produced. You can also go a step further and seek out electronics that have recycled or reused parts. In this way, you’ll be encouraging manufacturers to develop electronic equipment that is better for the environment.

  • Packaging

    Electronics often come with an excessive amount of packaging. Many of these elements are not recyclable. Look for items that have less packaging or components that can be reused or recycled. Moreover, you could opt to buy electronics that have multiple uses. That way, you can cut down on the amount of packaging you’d have if you bought several different electronics.

E-Waste Disposal Services

E-waste is a serious problem in Canada. A University of British Columbia study found there were 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced, and that number is expected to reach 52.2 million metric tonnes.

Michaels Global Trading offers e-waste disposal services to help reduce these numbers. We want to ensure a healthier environment, while protecting your business from legal issues around the disposal of e-waste.

Our e-waste specialists will remove every last trace of your unwanted and outdated equipment. We’ll also help protect your privacy by ensuring the data and information on your electronics are completely removed.

Whether you want to recycle, donate, or resell your old electronic equipment, Michaels Global Trading knows how to get it done for you. If you’re downsizing or liquidating your businesses, contact us and learn more about our e-waste disposal services.

For more information about our services in Ontario, call Michaels Global Trading at 1-888-902-7531 or contact us here.

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