E-Wasteland: The Evolution of Recycling

What do you first think of when you hear the word recycling? A stack of newspapers next to a bag of plastic bottles? Perhaps a blue container with a white recycling symbol. Or maybe the last time you participated in recycling. I think of hot, summer days walking on the roadside with my father, picking up cans and bottles thrown into ditches by passing cars. Few think of recycling as a history, and even fewer still think of it as more than repurposing paper, glass, and plastic.

The First Recyclers

Recycling can be traced back to 500 BC in Athens where trash was disposed of outside the city. The actual evolution of recycling did not begin until 1776 when NYC patriots melted down a statue of King George III for creating 42,088 bullets during The American War of Independence. Paper was also recycled during this time due to shortages or lack of raw materials. It wasn’t until 1897, when the first recycling plant was erected in NYC to handle scrap metal, twine, paper, rubber, and horse hair, that mentalities shifted toward wider product recycling.

Evolution of Recycling

Since then, recycling has evolved based largely on raw material availability and popular opinion. The 1960s brought with it the introduction of the Mobius Loop symbol, which is stamped on products to indicate recyclable materials, or painted on recycling bins for separation from trash. By 1995, there were over 10,000 recycling centers in the U.S. alone, and two out of three aluminum cans were recycled. However, it wasn’t until 2006 when companies, like Dell, began thinking about e-waste and ITAD recycling potentials.


Roundup estimates that 57.4 million metric tons of e-waste went into landfills in 2021 and is averaged to grow by 2 million tons a year. It is also calculated that 347 million metric tons of unrecycled e-waste currently live in landfills or are scattered across the planet in unsafe locations. Top contributors of e-waste produced in the world are China, the U.S., and India. Although Europe is recorded to recycle the highest amount of e-waste globally (42.5%), only 17.4% of the world’s total e-waste has been properly collected and recycled—and the number is still dropping significantly, adding to the e-waste problem.

Finding Sustainable Solutions Together

At Computer Dealers and Recyclers Global Inc. (CDR Global Inc.), we aspire to change the way others view ITAD recycling. Through innovative technologies, we find the hidden value of your IT equipment. By prioritizing refurbishment before recycling, we can extend the lifespan of products as originally designed while keeping devices out of the waste-stream. This opens doors to a variety of sustainable solutions to combat the rise in annual e-waste. For more information on how you can make a difference, please feel free to reach out to us!


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