E-waste Crisis

E-waste Crisis

The EPA estimates that in 2010, Americans threw away 143,000 computers every day. More than 400 million obsolete electronics are discarded in America every year. While advances in technology continue to improve and enrich our lives, product lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter. This means an increasing amount of outdated electronic equipment that needs to be recycled properly. When discarded, much of this equipment ends up in landfills in the US, or is exported to developing countries.

  • An average of 220 tons of electronic waste is dumped in landfills and incinerators every year in the US alone.
  • Electronic waste constitutes only 2-5% of the US municipal solid waste stream, but almost 70% of our toxic waste.
  • Anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of US electronic waste collected for recycling is sent to Asia.

Electronic equipment contains harmful toxins which, when released into the environment, can contaminate drinking water, soil and the atmosphere. Lead, mercury, cadmium and flame-retardants are all persistent, bio-accumulative toxins (PBTs) that cause birth defects and damage coronary, respiratory, nervous and skeletal system function.

  • A single computer or television monitor contains an average of 6 pounds of lead.
  • Monitor glass by weight contains roughly 20% lead. When this glass is crushed in a landfill, the lead leeches out into the ground water.
  • Just 1/70 of a teaspoon of mercury is enough to contaminate a 20 acre lake, rendering the fish inedible
  • In the US, municipal incineration of electronic waste is the largest source of cancer-producing dioxins and is among the largest sources of heavy metal contamination in the atmosphere.

While there are many ways to dispose of unwanted electronics, there are few guarantees that the resulting electronic waste will be disposed of responsibly. GreenCitizen is working to change the way electronics are discarded.  Read More