In recent years a new wave of GPS technology has risen specifically in waste management and recycling, especially when it comes to recycling electronic waste (or e-waste) properly. There are numerous benefits of GPS tracking for electronics recycling that is utilized by a growing number of organizations. Organizations like the Basel Action Network (BAN) have been using GPS trackers like this to study how e-waste is handled. Other organizations are using this technology to monitor recycling transportation and how recyclable materials are handled in day-to-day operations.
Of course, not all e-waste in the country is being tracked – at least not yet. But the amount that is being disposed of still provides valuable information that can be extrapolated to show interesting trends and ways to improve the efficiency of the e-waste recycling process. Let’s talk about the benefits of GPS tracking for electronics recycling!
Benefits of GPS Tracking
Tracking Improper Disposal of E-Waste
Of all the information that e-waste tracking has provided so far, this may be the most beneficial…and also one of the most alarming. In these cases, organizations like BAN place single-use GPS trackers on specific electronics (computers, printers, etc.) that are sent away to be recycled. This allows the organization to chart where the waste goes after being collected and where it ends up.
The goal is to improve accountability and create certification standards for companies that can prove they are handling e-waste responsibly and according to guidelines. According to a study begun in 2016, around 40% of devices like monitors and printers are exported outside of the country. We knew that a certain amount of e-waste was shipped overseas, but it wasn’t clear that numbers were this high. Shipping overseas is an easy way for companies to save money, but it isn’t actually recycling: E-waste is typically shipped to cheap centers where it is burnt out in the open, flooding the air and ground with toxins and accomplishing almost the opposite goal that e-waste recycling aims for. That up to 40% of waste materials were disposed of in this manner is very problematic, especially since many states have regulations that specifically ban these practices.
The good news for all involved is that GPS tracking is an excellent way to discover these problems. Through GPS tracking, we are able to find out which recyclers are responsible and how to reward or take away certification as result. That means the problem is likely to improve in the coming years.
Tracking Supply and Disposition Chains
Supply and disposition chains can get very complicated, especially in industries with relatively little oversight. This is why some recyclers have claimed that they were not responsible for overseas shipping, but the vendors of vendors that they passed e-waste along to were doing it without their knowledge. While a convenient excuse, it also points to serious logistics problems for this part of the industry. Tracking is an excellent way to unite disposition chains and make sure that all roles are understood – and nothing goes missing.
Meeting Specific National and International Requirements
E-waste regulations vary not only between states but between countries and international accords. Companies that want to do business with certain countries may find that they need to adhere to stricter recycling measures, and provide documentation that certain types of e-waste are being handled correctly (this also applies to many data privacy laws that may require the destruction of hard drives).
GPS tracking provides the necessary assurances that make meeting these kinds of regulations much easier and help prepare companies to meet future regulations that are still in development.
Helping to Save Fuel and Transport Costs
One of the benefits of GPS tracking is it helps to save fuel and transport costs. Not all recycling GPS trackers are placed on the devices themselves – while this may be useful for research and confirmation, the long-term benefits are limited. Alternatively, many trackers are placed on fleets responsible for carrying and, in some cases, compacting recyclable materials.
This makes it much easier to arrange efficient routes based on where trucks need to pick up e-waste and where they are delivering it. As a result, companies can find new ways to save on fuel costs. This makes the industry more efficient and creates more room for planning additional drop-off points. These GPS trackers can also be combined with a variety of additional data about how trucks operate so that companies can create guidelines (within reason) for on-the-road operations.
Reducing Backlogs of Materials to Be Recycled
Trackers on recycling fleets have other advantages as well. If fleets run into trouble during their collection phase, that can quickly create a backlog of recycled materials that have no place to go. That creates problems for drop-off points and recycling processes, slowing down the entire system and undermining confidence in recycling procedures. GPS tracking assists in the planning and versatility necessary to avoid backlogs.
Allowing People to Track Their Electronics for Further Accountability
GPS trackers are not just useful for the back end of the industry. A growing number of trackers offer services to those dropping off electronics for proper destruction and recycling. Like tracking a package, users can log into websites and see exactly where their shipment is or what stage of recycling has been completed. As services like this increase, it makes it easier for businesses to guarantee that they are following regulations and provides people with peace of mind regarding the fate of their electronics.
Track Your E-Waste Through Recycling with Stream Recycling
Stream Recycling is happy to offer serialized asset tracking from pickup through final disposition for any businesses that are interested in following the process. We value complete transparency in all of our operations and want to help ensure our customers have access to secure and efficient electronics recycling. Contact us to learn more about our e-waste tracking procedures and safely dispose of your electronics today.