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What is E-Waste?

The ever growing invention and prolific use of electronics and plastics have led to mounting anxiety for the human health effects they cause and the loss of land resulting from their disposal. In recent years, government agencies and private parties have united to aggressively address those environmental challenges.

Electronic products and the convenience they provide have become part of everyday modern life. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household. E-waste is the growing mass of electronic trash that results from our electronic consumption, including everything from televisions to cell phones. According to ecyclingtools.com, “though e-waste currently comprises less than 4% of the total solid waste stream in the United States, it’s been estimated that the volume of e-waste is increasing 2 to 3 times faster than other waste streams (e.g. paper or yard waste).” They added:

"490 million personal computers were retired between 2000 and 2005

...expected to increase to 955 million between 2005 and 2010."

In addition to the growing land required for e-waste, many electronics contain hazardous materials, such as plastics, cadmium, mercury, chromium, lead, and a collection of other heavy metals and materials, many of which can be reclaimed and recycled.

In response to the growing volume of e-waste, governments and companies are developing programs for donation and reuse or recovery and recycle. Successful e-cycling programs can have an immense impact on global pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated, “Recycling 1 million desktop computers prevents the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of over 17,000 passenger cars,” and “Recycling 1 million cell phones saves enough energy to power more than 19,000 U.S. households with electricity for an entire year” or “equivalent to removing the annual emissions for 1,368 cars.” The lessons are clear. Before you replace your phone or computer on a whim, consider the environmental cost; consider their total value. Become a green shopper visit the Additional Resources - Cool Tools.

If you, your family or friends have no use for old electronics, consider donating to charities or school programs. At a minimum, recycle it…don’t trash it.

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