4 Surprising Facts About E Waste
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is a growing concern for countries around the world. Fueled by our desire for new and exciting technology, old and obsolete cell phones, computers and television screens are quickly filling up landfills.
Although the situation with excess electronic scrap and e-waste is becoming dire, there are many things you can do to limit its harmful impact. Keep reading for five facts you may not know about electronic waste, and how you can make a difference.
1. Most E-Waste Is Not Recycled.
Recycling is an effective way to process old electronics, but only about 12% of e-waste is currently reused into new products. This number can rise as more people and communities recognize the importance of recycling.
Instead of throwing your old cell phone or computer in the regular trash, contact your local recycling center to check their disposal options. Oftentimes, the metals, glass and certain plastics within your devices can be reused in new products.
2. Electronics Contain Toxic Elements.
Electronic waste makes up only about 2% of the trash in America, but don’t let this seemingly low number fool you. Unfortunately, e-waste is highly toxic due to the heavy metals and other chemicals found within it. Although it only makes up 2% of the overall waste, e-waste is responsible for 70% of the toxic waste found in landfills.
Your TV screen can contain up to 8 pounds of lead, in addition to other chemicals such as mercury and chromium. If these devices aren’t disposed of properly, toxic materials can leak out and pollute groundwater, causing health problems for both humans and animals.
3. Cell Phones Contain Gold and Silver.
Your cell phone is more valuable than you think – it contains actual gold and silver within. These precious metals can be reused if recycled properly, but less than 15% of the gold will ever be recovered. It’s estimated that Americans throw away over $60 million worth of gold and silver every single year!
4. Recycling is Effective.
Recycling is an effective way of dealing with the e-waste crisis worldwide. By recycling a million laptops, we could save the energy equivalent of powering over 3,500 homes in the United States for a year.
The EPA reports that electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. It’s a rapidly evolving problem, but there is hope. Better recycling incentives across the country can ensure electronic devices are properly dismantled and reused.