Thursday is International E-Waste Day 2021, a day dedicated to urging households, businesses and governments to take more non-working or unused plug-in or battery-operated products to facilities where they can be either repaired or recycled.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans currently own more than 3 billion electronic products, and the average American household has 24 devices. Nationwide, an estimated 151 million or more phones a year — about 416,000 a day — are trashed and end up incinerated or in landfills. Discarded electronics make up 40% of heavy metals in United States landfills.
EchoWorks, a division of Black Hills Works, accepts electronic devices including computers and laptops, keyboards and other components, flat-screen monitors, cell phones, tablets, DVRs, Blueray, DVD and CD players, toner cartridges and projection televisions. EchoWorks also accepts hard drives, which can be shredded. To ensure privacy, customers can receive a certificate of destruction.
“We’re required to make sure we keep your data secure until it’s destroyed,” said Randy Sheppard, manager of EchoWorks. Sheppard follows the regulations of the Responsible Recycling/Recycling Industry Operating Standard, which performs audits every year.
Since Jan. 1, 2020, EchoWorks has diverted nearly 35 tons of e-waste from the Rapid City landfill. EchoWorks is located on the campus of Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City. EchoWorks’ hours of operation are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Global E-waste Monitor 2020 reported that an estimated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was generated in 2019. E-waste is predicted to grow to 74 million metric tons by 2030. E-waste is the fastest-growing hazardous solid waste in the world, but fewer than 30% of devices that generate e-waste are recycled.
More than 1,000 toxic substances are associated with e-waste. Improper disposal can lead to soil, water, food, and air contamination.
“Many factors play a role in making the electrical and electronics sector resource efficient,” said Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum, the organization behind International E-Waste Day. “But one thing stands out: As long as citizens don’t return their used, broken gear, sell it, or donate it, we will need to continue mining all-new materials, causing great environmental damage.”
For more information, go to internationalewasteday.com and blackhillsworks.org/programs-services/enterprises/echoworks/.