facts about e-waste
- The US now dumps between 300 million and 400 million electronic items per year, and less than 20% of that e-waste is recycled.
- E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
- Because computer processing power doubles roughly every two years, many old computers are being abandoned. In 2005, Americans discarded 47 million computers, up from 20 million in 1998.
- It’s energy efficient to rebuild old computers, but only about 2% of PCs ever find their way to a second user.
- Fewer than 20% of cell phones are recycled each year, but if we recycled just a million cell phones, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 1,368 cars off the road for a year.
- Flat panel computer monitors and notebooks often contain small amounts of mercury in the bulbs used to light them.
- Cathode ray tubes in older TVs and computers typically contain about 4 lbs of lead and sometimes as much as 7 lbs.
- The European Union banned e-waste from landfills in the 1990′s, and current laws hold manufacturers responsible for e-waste disposal.
- Large amounts of e-waste have been sent to countries such as China, India and Kenya, where lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing e-waste more profitable. Around 80 % of the e-waste in the U.S. is exported to Asia.
- E-waste legislation in the United States is currently stalled at the state level. So far, just 24 states have passed or proposed take-back laws.
- Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to:
- Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes
- LCD desktop monitors
- Laptop computers with LCD displays
- LCD televisions
- Plasma televisions
- Portable DVD players with LCD screens.
More about e-waste on our blog.