Electronic Waste Facts

Electronic Revolution = E-Waste 

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Tons of electronic waste thrown out

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TheWorldCounts, 24 April, 2014

Electronic Revolution = E-Waste 

The electronic revolution has changed how we lived, communicated and has brought people around the world closer. 

We are in a great era of technological advancement and we are a generation obsessed with technology. We have gadgets of all kinds – from our appliances to our computers and laptops, to our ever changing cell phones. 

We change our gadgets almost as often as we buy new clothes. Every time a new upgrade comes out, we throw our old gadgets away and buy a new one. 

Can you imagine how much electronic waste we generate? Where does it all go?

A culture of use and throw-away

E-Waste are electronic devices and gadgets nearing or at the end of its useful life. It covers discarded obsolete electronic devices, cellphones, notebooks, game consoles and their components.

Here are some electronic waste facts that you will find interesting and alarming:

  • We generate around 40 million tons of electronic waste every year, worldwide. That’s like throwing 800 laptops every second.
  • An average cellphone user replaces their unit once every 18 months.
  • E-waste comprises 70% of our overall toxic waste.
  • Only 12.5% of E-Waste is recycled.
  • 85% of our E-Waste are sent to landfills and incinerators are mostly burned, and release harmful toxins in the air!
  • Electronics contain lead which can damage our central nervous system and kidneys.
  • A child’s mental development can be affected by low level exposure to lead.
  • The most common hazardous electronic items include LCD desktop monitors, LCD televisions, Plasma Televisions, TVs and computers with Cathode Ray Tubes.
  • E-waste contains hundreds of substances, of which many are toxic. This includes mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, chromium, and flame retardants.
  • 80% of E-Waste in the US and most of other countries are transported to Asia.
  • 300 million computers and 1 billion cellphones go into production annually. It is expected to grow by 8% per year.

Is E-Waste Bad?

Many of our E-Waste end up in Asia or Africa landfills. The recycling method in these landfills is not the “recycling” that we have in mind. E-Waste is bad, for you and me, for our planet and most especially for the workers on the landfills.

E-Wastes are buried or incinerated in landfills where their toxins pollute our land, air and water. Most of the time, they are sent to developing countries where workers extract the precious metals from the discarded electronics.

Workers on E-Waste sites are paid an average of $1.50 per day. They are unprotected while working with the toxic substances on the site. They are the first to inhale the toxins that are released in the air when electronic parts are burned. Many of these workers are children!

Why we should recycle Electronics

  • Cellphones and other electronic devices contain precious metals like gold and silver. The US alone throws away cellphones with $60 million worth of gold/silver yearly.
  • Recycling 1 million laptops saves energy equivalent to the energy used by 3600 homes in the US annually.
  • Most of the components of E-Waste are electronic equipments that can be re-used and recycled for materials recovery.

What can we do about our personal E-Waste

There are several options when it comes to the proper disposal of your electronic devices.

  • Your old cellphone can still be used by another person. Same with your old computer or television. Donate it to friends, charities or community outreach programs – even to a stranger! This is better than the hazardous e-waste materials ending up in a landfill somewhere. At the same time, you make someone happy. It’s a win-win option!
  • Find a Certified E-Waste Recycler. Those who are not certified will just send it off somewhere else where it can do its damage.

Be part of the solution and help reduce our electronic waste. 

We cannot stop you from changing your devices as often as you want, but discard your old ones properly. When it comes to E-Waste, there is probably another person in the world who can benefit from your unwanted devices. Find them before you throw it away. Let’s keep our electronic waste as far away from landfills as possible.

References

  1. Do Something – 11 facts about E-Waste
  2. Cause International: E-Waste Facts

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