Technology is always advancing. The latest advance is seeing a transition from 4G to 5G. It’s starting to happen in select cities. The early phase is expected to last a couple of years. The switch to 5G will expand at faster rates until everyone can access the technology. Most devices cannot handle 5G and must be upgraded. If you have a 4G/LTE phone, you’re going to need to trade it in for a 5G device. Old devices have to be recycled as the transition continues, and it’s up to consumers and companies to do this responsibly.
What is 5G?
5G is a new generation of wireless communications technologies for cellular data networks. It’s faster than 4G and is designed to make it easy for everyone to connect. It’s supposed to have tremendously high data speeds, improved availability, and better efficiency. If you look at the differences over the years, the 1980s had 1G for analog voice technology. In the early 1990s, that improved to 2G for digital voice technology. The 2000s and 2010s brought 3G and then 4G for mobile data and mobile broadband.
Each decade has seen dramatic improvements in the speed of information reaching and being sent from mobile devices. With 5G, it’s estimated that speeds will be as much as 20 Gbps for peak data rates. Capacity will be 100 times greater. The expectations are that 11 GB of data each month by 2022 compared to the current average of 2.3 GB.
That speed and power that 5G delivers cannot run on a 4G or 3G device. New technology requires upgraded devices. In 25 states, electronics recycling is mandatory. In some states, manufacturers must pay for the cost of electronics recycling. It costs nothing for consumers to recycle in many areas, but some consumers and business owners still don’t understand how to recycle these electronic items.
E-Waste Recycling Laws in the United States
In the U.S., 25 states have laws requiring electronics recycling. Most states have recycling centers where consumers go to recycle their unneeded electronic items. Sometimes, retailers will take back items for recycling. Of those 25 states, California and Utah are the only two who do not require the manufacturer to pay for the cost of recycling electronics. Californians pay a fee when they purchase electronics. That fee goes into a fund that covers the cost of recycling. In Utah, manufacturers are given the choice of one of three programs including options like the creation of physical collection sites or mail-back programs.
Some states do not have specific e-waste programs, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw your electronic items out. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming are states with no e-waste programs in place. Even with no e-waste program, there can be bans on the disposal of some electronic items. For example, Massachusetts doesn’t offer an e-waste program, but there are disposal bans in place. If you’re uncertain, you should ask the manufacturer or retailer where the item was purchased what you need to do with the item. You can also turn to your local waste district for advice.
When you own a business, it’s not always as easy. You may have crates full of electronics that are now outdated due to 5G. Your employees all have company-issued smartphones that you’ve upgraded. You need to recycle the old ones. Partner with a knowledgeable ITAD firm for peace of mind and the assurance that you are responsibly recycling your old electronics.
What About Safety and Security When Recycling Electronics?
Do you have a closet or storeroom full of old electronics? Are you worried about recycling them due to the risk of data theft? You’re not alone. Many consumers aren’t sure how to safely dispose of electronics. They leave them in storerooms, garages, barns, and closets boxed up for years. If you can’t see them until you go into that storeroom, closet, garage, or bar and see the stacked boxes, you’re not going to think about them. Eventually, you’ll run out of room. Plus, those items could have some value still. The sooner you take the steps to recycle them, the more likely you’ll find they have some value still.
Used electronics are recycled in one of two ways. If there is life left and the item could be of value to someone else, refurbishing is a possibility. Remarketing involves identifying the value to start. Once an item is determined to have some value, the data is wiped, broken parts are replaced, and it’s returned to like-new condition. Then, it’s tested and resold. It provides the consumer with some value. If the item is no longer useful, data is destroyed and the item is shredded. The components of a shredded electronic are separated into metal, glass, and plastic. Those shredded parts can be melted down and used to create new electronic items. With both options, the data is destroyed to prevent the risk of theft.
It’s a good idea to worry about safety and security when recycling 4G or lower phones. When you’re looking for an electronic recycling company, choose one that is certified. Specifically, look for e-Stewards, NAID, and R2 certifications to ensure responsible measures are taken. You want a company that does data destruction first to ensure there’s no risk of theft. Deleting data from a phone or computer doesn’t remove the data permanently. It could be recovered if someone really wanted to get that information. If you’re not sure if your local recycling center chooses an e-recycling company that destroys data, ask. If they don’t know, you have the right to ask them to find out where the collected electronics go.
Your best bet is to choose a trustworthy e-recycling partner. You want to choose a company that is recycling responsibly and properly. Partner with ERI and you don’t have to worry about your electronic items being processed overseas or refurbished without first destroying prior data. While your items are traveling from your location to the e-recycling company, you may need to know where they are. ERI offers Optech™, a proprietary software option for businesses that are sending outdated electronics and want real-time tracking.
ERI is the nation’s leading ITAD and e-recycling firm. Our firm is the only one in the world to have e-Stewards, NAID, and R2 certifications. With eight locations, we serve every part of the USA and we’re happy to help you. We can supply e-recycling kits for businesses who want to host recycling events or provide mail-back options for many of today’s leading manufacturers. Give us a call to learn more or to arrange to have us as your e-recycling partner.