Waste Press delete
OVERVIEW Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products.Electronics, such as video game systems, digital cameras, computers, mp3 players, DVD players, televisions, and cell phones are quickly becoming the most popular type of new purchase, whether it be as a gift for someone else or as a replacement for an older version of a similar product. In fact, electronics typically account for approximately 25% of gift sales during the holiday season. Unfortunately, a good majority of old electronics that are being replaced by newer versions are ending up in landfills- where pollutants can seep into groundwater, soil, and air- posing a serious threat to the environment and public health. Electronic waste (e-waste) now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide, nearly the same amount as all plastic packaging. E-waste is a constantly growing component of the municipal solid waste stream because people are upgrading their mobile phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment and printers more frequently than ever before. Mobile phones and computers are causing the biggest problem because they are replaced most often. Continuously replacing, rather than repairing products, creates more waste, pollution, and uses more natural resources. According to a report by The National Safety Council, in the U.S. alone there are an estimated 315 million outdated computers and over 500 million used cell phones. Currently, less than 11% of computers are being recycled, while the majority sit in warehouses or consumer households. Along with computers, TVs, VCRs, cell phones, and monitors—an estimated 304 million electronics—were discarded in the U.S. in 2005, with about two-thirds of those still in working order, according to Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates. The benefits of reusing and recycling electronics are numerous. Reuse is a key strategy in decreasing the amount of waste entering landfills and incinerators, in turn decreasing air, land, and water pollution. Economically, businesses benefit from servicing and selling used goods, while consumers benefit from the savings gained by not having to purchase new items and by receiving money for their used goods. In addition, reuse and recycling reduce the health hazards caused by the manufacture and destruction of electronic materials. E-WASTE AND PUBLIC HEALTH E-waste is a global problem, especially since many developed countries ship their discarded electronic equipment to less developed countries. There the e-waste is dismantled and burned, producing toxic emissions harmful to waste site workers and nearby communities. Electronic waste represents 2 percent of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste. Billions of pounds of electronic waste are destined for landfills and incinerators in the next few years. Computers, cell phones, and other electronics contain metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead, as well as brominated flame retardants that are in the plastics that encase each machine. Studies have repeatedly shown these metals and chemicals to be toxic to our environment and public health. Some states have begun to classify computer monitors as hazardous waste and in some cases are banned from landfills.