IT 150 02 – Info Tech for Bus
29 Nov. 2011
Electronic Waste In today’s technological based society cell phones, computers, iPods, televisions, and cameras are essential in everyday life. Whether you use it for work, play, or convenience there is no escape form technology in today’s day and age. The production of electric and electronic equipment is a fast-growing industry. While having many economic benefits that come along with the sales of all of this new technology there is an unfortunate downside. The average life of our electronic devices has dramatically decreased in the past year which in turn causes our old electronics to be thrown away. Electronic waste is a term used to describe discarded electrical or electronic devices. Vast amounts of electronic waste are created in the United States and worldwide, which creates a lot more problems than you would initially think. The EPA has just released its 2009 Facts and Figures on Municipal Solid Waste generated in the U.S. This new report shows that in 2009, as in previous years, the vast majority (82.3%) of e-waste discarded in the U.S. is still ending up in our landfills and incinerators, with only 17.7 percent going to recyclers.(Schwarzer, De Bono) This is a slight increase from 2008, when 13.6 was diverted for recycling. But it’s far lower than the recycling rate reported for the whole municipal waste stream, which was 33.8 %.( Electronics TakeBack Coalition) Below is a graph illustrating the amount of electronic waste was discarded in the United States from 2000-2009.
Electronic waste now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide, nearly the same amount as all plastic packaging, but it is much more hazardous.(Greenpeace) Electronic waste represents 2% of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics alone causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys.(11 Facts) Because of its harmful nature Electronic waste needs to be taken seriously. The image below gives you an idea of how much electronic waste is disposed of.
In 2008, we generated 3.16 million tons of e‐waste in the U.S. Of this amount, only 430,000 tons or 13.6 % was recycled, according to the EPA. The rest was trashed – in landfills or incinerators. (The total generated increased from 3.01 million tons of e‐waste generated in 2007, but the recovery rate stayed at 13.6%.(Kyle, Barbra 2) Some 20 to 50 million metric tons of e‐waste are generated worldwide every year, comprising more than 5% of all municipal solid waste. When the millions of computers purchased around the world every year (183 million in 2004) become obsolete they leave behind lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous wastes. In the US alone, some 14 to 20 million PCs are thrown out every year. In the EU the volume of e‐waste is expected to increase by 3 to 5 per cent a year.