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circular economy
  • Date: March 15, 2022
  • Category: give IT

Why America needs a circular economy and how we’re doing our part

The idea of a circular economy is not new, but it’s received a lot of attention and acceptance in the last few years.

If the concept of a circular economy is new to you, the infographic below published by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation sums it up nicely. Note where we took the liberty of adding our logo where give IT. get IT. fits into the equation.

circular economy graphic

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a circular economy “reduces material use, redesigns materials to be less resource intensive, and recaptures “waste” as a resource to manufacture new materials and products.”

At give IT. get IT., recapturing electronic waste as a resource is a core part of our digital inclusion mission. First and foremost, we keep reusable technology out of the waste stream altogether by either reselling it or refurbishing it into new tools for people. Any surplus tech we cannot reuse ourselves, we separate and ship to recycling vendors with best-practice certifications in strict accordance with our Zero Landfill Policy.

We recently read a well-researched article by Isra Safawi called the Digital Age’s Dark Side that offers some eye-opening statistics about why America needs a circular economy now more than ever.

  • The world produces 50 million tons of e-waste every year
  • Only 20% of that e-waste is recycled correctly
  • While e-waste comprises only 2% of the total waste humans produce each year, it accounts for 70% of all toxic waste.

The numbers above are not sustainable.

From 60” flat-screen TV’s to pocket-size cell phones, every electronic device contains toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, and phosphors. When companies dump electronic waste in a landfill, these toxic chemicals seep out of the devices and into the surrounding land. That may not sound like a big deal until those chemicals reach the water table where they eventually reach farmland or are absorbed into the atmosphere.

It takes years for toxic chemicals to leach out of electronic waste, but the risk to future generations is immediate.

As consumers, we not only have to be sure we responsibly dispose of our unwanted electronic devices, we need to demand more from the companies that make the electronics we buy. We need to abandon the old “take-make-waste” model and embrace the concepts of sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling.

At give IT. get IT., we’re proud to do our part in keeping surplus technology out of the waste stream. We’ve been champions of reusing and recycling since 2002. Today, we’re better staffed, better equipped, and more motivated than ever to contribute to the circular economy by converting surplus technology into high-quality, affordable tools for people in need.

If your business has surplus technology in need of recycling or you know a company that does, please connect with Allen Cornwall, our Technology Reuse and Recycling Advocate at acornwall@itec3.org or 207-749-3431.