In the world today, one of the biggest challenges we face is solving the ever-increasing problem of human-made waste. Each year, Americans throw away over 250 million tons of trash and only recycle, roughly, one-third of it. When looking at this situation from a broader perspective, this amount of trash is truly staggering. While there are several culprits that contribute to this tremendous amount of material waste, one component that has, fairly recently, began adding up is the electronic waste (e-waste).
Since the dawn of technology, we have been generating electronic waste that ultimately ends up in landfills, and with the rate that technology advances today, the amount of e-waste is growing at an alarming pace.
This term includes consumer or business electronics that are near or at the end of their useful life, which is why they make their way to landfills. While many electronics can be reused, resold, salvaged and recycled, they are often included in the category of e-waste for public policy concerns.
The term e-waste should be reserved specifically for the materials and products that end up in landfills rather than electronics that can be reused or scrapped for materials that are often commingled. More and more recycling centers are accepting specific consumer electronics because new methods to recycle and reuse are being developed.
Why is e-waste a problem?
Electronics that wear out, break or become obsolete are extensive. Some examples include TV’s, computers, printers, phones, refrigerators and other appliances. Aside from the obvious space in landfills problems, e-waste often contains numerous materials and contaminants that can be harmful to the environment.
The hardest type of products to recycle are ones with cathode ray tubes (CRTs) displays, and this is due to their extremely high concentrations of lead and phosphors. CRTs are necessary for display monitors, which can be found in old TVs, computer monitors and more.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes discarded CRT monitors in its “hazardous household waste” category. Similarly to CRT displays, LCD and plasma (newer technology) are dangerous as well. While no landfill item is completely harmless to the environment, e-waste poses a unique threat due to what they often include.
E-waste can ultimately end up polluting the water table that impacts ecosystems, drinking water, and our planet. Electronics of all types contain numerous hazardous metals and materials that make their way into the ecosystems around the world when they end up being thrown away in landfills. Arsenic, lead, and polybrominated flame retardants are just a few of the common materials that are found in electronics that are toxic to living things.
To help put the problem of e-waste into perspective, here are some facts and figures:
- More than 40 million tons of electronic waste are thrown away each year.
- E-waste makes up more than 70% of toxic waste in landfills.
- E-waste at landfills is either buried or burned in incinerators, both rapidly release toxins into the environment.
- Only about 12% of e-waste is actually recycled, which is a very poor statistic.
- 1 million recycled cell phones is the equivalent to 35,274lbs of copper, 772lbs of silver, 75lbs of gold and 33lbs of palladium being recovered.
E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in America and is only expected to grow each year.
To address this harmful issue, more convenient options need to be made available for consumers and businesses to recycle these products instead of throwing them out as waste. Consolidated Resources, Inc. is committed to providing exceptional commercial and industrial recycling solutions for businesses throughout the metro Phoenix area.
From custom collection containers to flexible scheduling, CRI is proud to offer comprehensive recycling solutions, including e-waste. Call today to find out CRI can simplify and improve your
business’s recycling issues.