Computer Waste or “e-waste” is rapidly becoming a major problem for our world’s waste stream, due mostly to the toxicity and quantity of these unwanted televisions, computers and computer components. The toxins used in the manufacture of these components include brominated flame retardants, cadmium, lead, lithium, mercury, phosphorous coatings, and PVC plastics that create dioxins when burned. The quantities of the products are staggering and growing each year. Many of these unwanted components are shipped off to third world countries with little or no environmental regulation. What are some ways of alleviating the possible environmental and economic problems created from this “e-waste”? The toxicity of this waste is an often unknown/unacknowledged problem. Most people just don’t consider this when disposing of their old components or even worse don’t dispose of it and just store it away. Let’s look at eleven important facts from the following web page
1. E-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.
2. The nation now dumps between 300 million and 400 million electronic items per year, and less than 20% of that e-waste is recycled.
3. Because computer processing power doubles roughly every two years, many old computers are being abandoned. Only 15% of people recycle their computers, which means the other 85% end up in landfills.
4. It’s energy efficient to rebuild old computers, but only about 2% of PCs ever find their way to a second user.
5. About 50 million cell phones are replaced worldwide a month and only 10% are recycled. If we recycled just another million cell phones, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 1,368 cars off the road for a year.
6. Flat panel computer monitors and notebooks often contain small amounts of mercury in the bulbs used to light them.
7. Cathode ray tubes in older TVs and computers typically contain about 4 lbs of lead and sometimes as much as 7 lbs.
8. The European Union banned e-waste from landfills in the 1990s, and current laws hold manufacturers responsible for e-waste disposal.
9. 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.
10. E-waste legislation in the United States is currently stalled at the state level. Just 24 states have passed or proposed take-back laws. However, as of January 1, 2011, covered electronics are completely banned in West Virginia.
11. 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
Plasma televisions Portable DVD players with LCD screens
Once the facts are known much could be done to change the end result. Many computer manufactures are creating recycling programs or “end loop programs” for their products. Acer, Apple, Dell, Epson, HP, IBM, Lexmark &NEC are all major manufactures who have recycling programs for their products. . Many of these programs were developed to meet The State of Maine and other States/Nations legislation and guidelines.
States have been creating legislation to govern the e-waste and create guidelines on how to dispose of it. However there is no Federal