The Truth About E-Waste

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 3:29 PM

Every year, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste is discarded each year. That amount could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade.

Electronic Waste commonly known as e-waste is the term used to describe the rapidly growing waste from discarded electronics and appliances. These items include computers, televisions, cell phones, tablets, washing machines, refrigerators and everything in between. Globally 40-60 million metric tons of e-waste are discarded every year, roughly the weight of 200 Empire State Buildings!

E-Waste is extremely toxic and often contains substances like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium and other harmful contaminates. Most people are unaware of the harmful effects of e-waste. Harmful materials found in e-waste can cause all kinds of health issues like cancer, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, kidney damage and neurological damage. Not to mention the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons left behind. E-waste dumpsites are toxic and so are the surrounding areas.








Improper e-Waste disposal hurts the planet and everything that lives here, including animals, birds, sea mammals and marine life. Nearly every living organism on earth is impacted by the dangerous chemicals released into the atmosphere and water when e-Waste is improperly disposed. Nearly 100% of e-waste is recyclable but only an incredibly small percentage is recycled in a proper facility, as little as 11% in the United States. The remainder is dumped or burned in official or unofficial landfills and incinerators. Approximately 80 percent of e-waste generated in the U.S. is exported to Asia.


Solutions

Reduce!

Try to purchase from companies that use recycled materials and support proper handling of e-waste. Visit ethicalconsumer.org for insight on sustainable practices within companies and manufacturers.

Reuse!

I know it is hard to resist the latest new gadget but whenever possible consider buying refurbished or second-hand options whenever possible. Donate or sell your old items. There are many options for donating your old cell phone, Mp3 player and other small portable devices to charities like Cell Phones for Soldiers  and The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Recycle!

Takeback Programs:


Dell takes back all Dell products. They lead all manufacturers with 2490 collection sites in the states and in partnership with Fedex they will pick up and ship back free of charge.

Staples Technology trade-in. Get a Staples eCash Card when you trade in your old technology in store or online.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition maintains an up to date list of companies and programs in the United States that will recycle products for you. Visit: http://www.electronicstakeback.com/how-to-recycle-electronics/manufacturer-takeback-programs/


Additional resources for electronic recycling facilities near you:



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