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What is E-Waste?

What is E-Waste?

E-waste is electronics and appliances that have reached the end of their "useful" life. 

Electronics, like plastic, are great! They have allowed us to do so many awesome things, but there's another side to the story.

What is e-waste? What can we do about it?

This is pretty much a common theme with everything because we don't manufacture and design products to be resumed back into the system. 

For example, with your Pela Case you can turn it into soil by composting it or send it back to have it turned into a yoga mat or a new phone case. This keeps the production circular. (We're still in the beginning phase of our take-back program. More information on coming soon!) 

The product is designed to have all of the parts resumed back into  production. 

Most businesses don't start with the idea of reclaiming their materials or resources, they assume they'll just keep using new resources and new materials. 

It's pretty silly, if you ask me, as we have a finite supply of resources. 

Many rare earth minerals used in the electronics industry are non-renewable and highly-exhaustible. It would be really smart to figure out a way to reuse them from machine to machine. 

Unfortunately, that system is not in place so we wind up with e-waste. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the US. Electronics are classified as hazardous waste, and should never be thrown into the landfill. 

What is e-waste from

On average 35 million tons of e-waste is discarded each year, and more than 4.6 million tons are thrown into landfills where they leach toxic chemicals into the soil and ground water. 

Most of this e-waste cannot be recycled, and even when we do send it to be "recycled" 50-80% of it is dumped in Africa, India, and China where they don't have the infrastructure to deal with the hazardous chemicals like brominated furans and dioxins. These are all released into the atmosphere endangering the air quality, the soil, water, and the workers most of which are children. 

Technology and electronics aren't going anywhere, but there are a few things we can do to try and improve the problem. 


Instead of immediately running out to upgrade to the latest and greatest camera, phone, computer, or tablet, try waiting. Wait until you actually need a new phone or computer. 

I am currently typing this blog post on a computer from 2010. Would it be nice to have a fancier computer, of course! Especially since I spend most of my day on it, but I don't need a new computer. My current one works fine. 


Once your phone or computer start showing serious signs of malfunction, take it to the repair shop. Maybe there's a simple fix. Maybe you need to get a new battery or upgrade your RAM.

My computer was running really slowly, so I upgraded my RAM and it's been working great ever since! It was a really simple repair for $100. Way cheaper than buying a new computer and kept some e-waste out of waste stream. 


Before going out and buying a new toy, check out websites with refurbished technology. Maybe you can get a great deal on one second hand. 

Buying second hand, gives you the option to prolong the life and keep resources and materials from heading straight to the waste stream. 

My husband bought an amazing second hand computer 7 years ago. It was completely decked out with an intel core i7 processor and other expensive computer jargon. 

He paid a fraction of the price for the laptop and it's still working great!

Demand Change: 

Then most importantly, make sure you let the companies know you want a circular supply chain. Write them a letter. Look into their business practices. How do they handle waste and recycled materials? Ask them on social media when they'll be taking their products back for full recycling. 

Sources and Further Reading: