E-Waste Overview: What is it, how much is there, why is this a problem?

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Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is a growing problem world wide. We are producing and discarding more and more electronics each year, but we seem to be recycling fewer. In 2016, we produced approximately 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste globally. By 2020, that number is expected to top 50 million. We only recycle about 20%. In 2016, that meant 8.9 million metric tons.

A report from the EPA says that in 2012, Americans discarded over 416,000 mobile devices and 142,000 computers daily. That’s a shocking number. Many of those were simply thrown into landfills. This creates many issues, especially for our water table. E-waste in landfills leaches lead and other heavy metals. While we recycle 40% of our computers, we only recycle 11% of our cell phones. We can do much better.

E-Waste Hazards:

Besides the lead I already mentioned, e-waste creates other issues when improperly disposed. It wastes water generating new electronics. Disposal in landfills loses millions of dollars worth of precious metals and rare earth elements each year. This makes it harder to replace the old devices. Replacing those devices causes wasted energy, enough to run thousands of US homes each year.

An image of e-waste. Discarded mobile phones spanning several generations, from flip phones to smart phones.
What e-waste can be recycled?

In short: nearly all of it. Phones, computers, even your old toaster can be recycled. Some e-waste has life left in it. Other items need to be broken down into components so that the metals and plastics can be reused. Either way, reuse or recycling, keeps the waste out of the landfill. Out of the landfill should always be the goal.

Optimally speaking, you should use a device as long as possible before replacing it. When it is no longer usable, always send the old device to a reputable e-waste recycler. Never throw e-waste into the trash.

We here at E-Waste Assassin are passionate about our business. It was established when we realized that our primary IT business was contributing to the problem. We work hard to find the best solution for all waste we receive. Our services are available to both residential and business clients. We would love to arrange a drop off or pick up of your discarded electronics. Contact us today!

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