User-friendly, white-enameled consumer appliances are an undeniable part of our lives. Commonly termed as ‘white goods’, these appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, stoves have undoubtedly redefined our lives. Most of us agree how useful these appliances are but you can’t say the same for malfunctioning ones. Since dumping these appliances undermines the collective efforts of reducing carbon footprint, recycling can turn out to be quite a beneficial alternative.
Recycling white goods is surely a challenge. If you are not sure whether recycling white goods is an idea worth your time and energy, this blog post explains the benefits of recycling white goods.
Reasons for Recycling White Goods
Many white goods include mercury switches. When these white goods are dumped into the landfills, mercury from these switches seeps into the groundwater. Understandably, when this mercury-induced water mixes up with ocean water and is consumed by aquatic organisms, humans are prone to consuming seafood containing high levels of mercury.
Air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and other appliances also contain refrigerants. You may have heard abbreviations for such chemical compounds: CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs. CFCs contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer if they are released into the air while dumping white goods into landfills. In addition, other potentially hazardous refrigerants such as ammonia, HFs, and CFs also end up in landfills in unprocessed form.
Those of us who refuse to reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle white goods may already be looking for a way to throw old white goods into the trash. However, do you know that CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs are not the only refrigerator gases that need to be handled responsibly? Modern refrigerators and freezers have a kind of diffused foam that traps very strong greenhouse gases in the pockets of small air bubbles. This insulating foam may have more greenhouse gases that must be disposed of in presence of a trained environmentalist. Unfortunately, only one firm in Manitoba harvests and disposes of these gases properly. By recycling white goods, concerns about improper disposal of outdated appliances can be avoided altogether.
Limitations of Recycling White Goods in Developing Countries
In many cases, especially in nations with stricter environmental laws, the cost of recycling white goods exceeds the amount of material exported. As a result, most e-waste is disposed of in nations where environmental laws are comparatively flexible.
Asia has been a favorite disposal site, but as laws here have tightened as well, white goods are dumped at other locations, mainly West African areas. Unfortunately, most emerging nations lack the waste removal infrastructure and technical capabilities to ensure safe hazardous waste disposal. As a result, recycling white goods has been connected to several health issues in these nations including cancer, neurological and respiratory illnesses, and birth abnormalities.
WEEE's Illegal Imports
Combating WEEE's illegal imports has become one of the most critical issues. On the other hand, some white good recycling standards are generally limited because they exclude many hazardous compounds found in electronics. Furthermore, many regulations ignore the issue of white goods recycling management.
More and more states are ordering electronic landfills to keep white goods away from municipal landfills. White goods recycling saves energy and recycles natural resources such as copper, silver, and aluminum. In addition, many of the metals in modern equipment are rare earth metals that are in short supply. Instead of needing mines for new resources, white goods can be recycled and reused.
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Published by Samantha Brown