More and more electronic gadgets are making their way to the wastelands, especially in Asia. Phones, computers and other appliances have led to 12.3 million tons of e-waste in five years.
A study by the United Nations University shows e-trash is often dumped illegally, causing environmental problems.
Tech products often contain lead and mercury, which are toxic to the environment. The process of burning the electronics can also cause health issues. It’s usually how landfills get rid of the clutter.
Austin Startup, ‘Renew Logic’ is trying to take a greener approach with the discarded tech equipment.
CEO Gary Stephens said the company sells some discarded electronics into second-hand items and properly recycles the rest.
"We're really servicing all the needs of all the customers in the electronics field,” said Stephens.
What many people see as electronic junk, Stephens sees as an opportunity to make some cash and save the environment.
Renew Logic also signs revenue- sharing agreements with the tech companies, so they can receive money from their unused electronics.
The idea enticed Billionaire John Paul DeJoria.
"I believe so much in what Renew Logic stands for that I've invested not only my time in it - which is very valuable - but seven figures in income,” said John Paul DeJoria, Renew Logic Investor.
According to Renew Logic, this idea is not only profitable but helpful to the environment.
"[In] third world countries, children breaking this very toxic material down to get to the precious metals that [are] inside so they can eat for the day,” said Stephens.
The issue of scam recycling doesn't just deal with goods from Asia.
"I cannot express to you just how dangerous that is,” said Stephens.
A two-year investigation from an environmental group called Basel Action Network found electronics taken to recycling centers in the U.S. sometimes end up in landfills in countries like Taiwan, China and Thailand.
"We're supposed to be a planet of the people, and that's not happening,” said DeJoria.
Renew Logic recently received what's called the R2 certification.
"What that means is we manage that equipment from the moment it hits our facility, all the way downstream, so we know exactly where the material has gone,” said Stephens.
R2 is the highest certification for keeping the environment safe.
If you want to make sure your old cell phone or laptop is being disposed of properly, you can go the R2 Certification website.
Here is a direct link to their site, where you can find all of the R2 certified recyclers in the Austin area.