By Kamilla Graham
In this modern world, new technology is created at what feels like the speed of light. Every day computers, cell phones and televisions need updates to software. Cell phones are improved each year, and the technology that was cutting-edge just four short years ago becomes obsolete and unable to support new applications. But what do you do with your old cell phone? How about your old computer? Should you simply toss them out? What about all the components inside? The screen, batteries and plastic parts? A 2010 report by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) states that the U.S. is the world leader in producing electronic waste, throwing away about three million tons each year.
Once you throw out those obsolete desktops, laptops, printers and cellphones they become “e-waste” which can contain harmful components such as lead, cadmium, beryllium and other known dangerous chemicals. It is imperative that proper recycling take place when these devices need replacing to limit the environmental and health impact of these chemicals.
Fortunately, there is a local Arizona solution. Karin Harris, a native to Pittsburgh, PA, founded eGreen IT Solutions to steward all end-of-life electronics. Now, her company is not only a premier certified electronic recycler in the Southwest but also in the country. Harris also works with international downstreams to assist her in getting eGreen’s recycled electronics disposed of properly.
“Electronic devices and electronic equipment is already the largest and fastest growing waste stream,” said Harris. “Seventy percent of waste in landfills are electronics. As we incorporate more electronic-devices usage into our daily lives, we are also contributing more to the fast-growing issue of e-waste management and disposal.”
With a background in the telecommunications industry that began in the 1990s, Harris has turned two decades of systems engineering into an award-winning career. She tells a story about how during her time in telecommunications she became frustrated by the irresponsible disposal of electronic waste. Karin also discovered that the attention to data security and the environmental impact of end-of-life electronics was negligible. She began to realize that end-of-life electronics and the environmental impact from e-waste was astronomical. She wanted to do something about it.
Harris’s company, eGreen IT Solutions, is not only certified to wipe data and media to protect confidentiality, privacy and security; her company is also a true recycler of CRT Tubes, computer monitors and other display devices. The output from eGreen IT Solutions is clear glass used in the manufacturing of new display devices for true clear glass reuse, preserving the environment for future generations. eGreen IT Solutions helps keep electronic waste out of landfills, eliminates illegal exports to other countries, and stops harmful byproducts during glass processing.
On being a woman business owner, Harris said, “I am very proud to be an owner of a tech company. I’ve been in the industry for many years working alongside my professional male counterparts. I can truly say that for the most part I am respected because of my knowledge and longevity in the industry. The few times that I encounter men who choose to attempt to disparage me simply because I am a woman find out pretty quickly that I have the education, professional history and experience that allows me to not only be a credible professional but a business-savvy owner.”
In addition to her dedication to reducing tech waste from the landfills and reusing electronics, Harris is also passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Over the last five years she has participated in bodybuilding competitions, successfully placing fourth in her first competition and second in her second competition.
For more about eGreen IT Solutions, visit egreenitsolutions.com.
Kamilla Graham is an Arizona native and avid NPR listener who enjoys rediscovering the world with her kids and husband.