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Of all the materials that can be recycled, metals are the most valuable. There are huge incentives to recycle metal waste in both ecological and economic standpoints that it remains the most cost-effective and energy-efficient form of recyclable material. The sheer amounts of energy and money saved from mining and smelting—both environmentally destructive and heavily polluting industries—justify its cost.
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And with the rising number of people using (and disposing of) consumer electronics, a new relatively untapped potential for recycling has emerged. Recycling obsolete laptops, old cellphones, and other consumer electronics en masse can have a very positive effect on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency states that recycling one million cellphone units can recover 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium, while recycling one million laptops can conserve the energy equivalent of more than 3,500 American homes.
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Many electronics retailers and charities throughout North America readily accept old and broken electronics, though there are special considerations to be made when recycling old batteries.
Although this practice is not unknown and is growing in popularity, recycling consumer electronics has yet to gain traction. Only about one percent of consumer electronics are recycled in the United States alone. Humor site Cracked.com calls this one of five unsung ways people can effectively (and effortlessly) save the world.
For more updates on the environment and ecological initiatives, visit Janique Goff’s Facebook page.