The United States produces the largest amount of e-waste in the entire world.

There are dangerous consequences to simply throwing out your old phone, laptop, game system, even microwave. All of these devices can cause terrible damage to the planet if not disposed of correctly.

We want to help you to become informed of the e-waste issue affecting our climate today. Read on for our top nine e-waste facts that you can use to better care for your environment.

10 Shocking E-Waste Facts

1. What Counts As E-Waste?

There actually aren’t any clear definitions of e-waste, but generally speaking, e-waste is electronic technology that is no longer useful and gets thrown away instead of recycled.

There are a number of different dangers to e-waste. Devices that don’t get recycled often have harmful chemicals and components that can affect the environment if not properly disposed of.

Disposed Desktop Computers and Other Electronics - 9 Shocking E-Waste Facts
Anything that contains electrical components can be classified as E-waste

Desktop computers, laptops, cell phones, printers, and any other devices with electrical components that you throw away can be considered e-waste.

E-waste is a clear and present threat in the battle against climate change and we need to be informed about it and take the necessary steps so that we can take care of our environment.

2. Most State Laws Don’t Regulate Electronic Waste

Only half of our states have laws regulating how electronics are disposed of, and it’s only 19 that have laws specifically banning e-waste from regular landfills.

With every person in the United State producing roughly 20 kg of e-waste a year, the states without these laws have tons of e-waste in their landfills. And there are few federal laws that regulate e-waste for everywhere in the United States.

3. E-Waste Around the World

Combined, the nations of the world produce over 50 million tons of e-waste.

Only 67 countries have laws regulating how e-waste is disposed.

Much of the e-waste generated in the United States and Canada is exported to Asia, which worsens their existing e-waste problems and does not solve our own.

Electronic Waste in a Landfill - 9 Shocking E-Waste Facts
Electronic Waste piled up in a landfill – Image Courtesy of Emmet from Pexels

There are global organizations such as the Global Environment Facility which are working to reduce e-waste across the globe and decrease the harm being done to our planet.

4. E-Waste Contains Heavy Metals & Toxic Chemicals

There are a number of toxic chemicals and other materials that can harm our planet in the devices that get turned into e-waste every year. 

Toxins such as lead, mercury, and cadmium can cause irreparable harm to the environment. These toxins will often seep into the ground if e-waste is not disposed of correctly. Not recycling our electronics can result in the poisoning of our planet.

5. E-Waste Also Contains Gold and Silver

Many precious metals such as gold, palladium, and silver are used to manufacture our electronic devices. These precious metals are mostly used in circuit boards because of their high conductivity.

The average computer holds around $10 worth of gold! When you account for the millions of tons of electronics thrown away each year, that can really add up (to millions or maybe even billions of dollars)!

Disposing of these metals improperly is not only economically wasteful but also dangerous. These metals can negatively affect plant life and air quality if they are allowed to corrode and infect the earth.

Computers can be a large waste of precious resources. Find out more about how computers are dealt with once they’re no longer operable.

6. E-Waste is Growing Rapidly

This problem is not slowing down, it is getting worse by the minute. The more electronics we use, the more we are wasting.

This year (2020), it’s predicted that the amount of worldwide e-waste generation will surpass 50 million tons, with an annual growth rate between 4% and 5%. (The Balance)

Someone who upgrades their phone might throw the old ones in the garbage. Another might do the same with their old microwave. These are just a couple of examples that show how we are worsening the problem on a personal and national scale.

7. There Are Security Risks

In addition to the environmental risks that come with e-waste, there are also security concerns.

If a person or agency wanted to scour a landfill for electronic waste, they could easily find the necessary components to steal the information of individuals, companies, and even governments.

Controlling our e-waste problem is not only a matter of environmental safety but also of personal and national security.

8. Potential Jobs & Employment

Recycling e-waste has the potential to not only improve the health of our planet, but also create jobs. The economic benefits of e-waste recycling are too great to ignore.

Analysts estimate that for every 10,000 tons of recycled e-waste material, we can create over 300 new jobs. In a time when so many are out of work due to COVID-19, this should be on our minds now more than ever.

9. What Recycling Can Do

Recycling your e-waste ensures that these devices are disposed of properly and reused to make new devices, perhaps even devices that will help improve the environment.

E-waste landfill filled with old computers - 9 Shocking E-Waste Facts
E-waste recycling in Ann ArborImage by George Hotelling from Canton, MI, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Any device we keep out of a landfill is a success in the fight against climate change. As mentioned previously, recycling also has the opportunity to create new jobs in your community.

The benefits of recycling electronics are very similar to the benefits of recycling other materials. We cannot stress the importance enough.

10. What You Can Do

The first thing you can do is recycle, which we have talked about in this article quite a lot.

Another thing you can do is use your devices longer. You may not need to upgrade your phone as often as your provider tells you that you should. The same goes for other devices.

If you are experiencing trouble with your devices, first look at repair instead of replacement.

Finally, you can also vote for policies that positively affect our climate. You have the power to create change in your community. Consider these e-waste facts the next time you go to the polls and cast your ballot.

To learn more about reducing electronic waste at home, check out this article I wrote: How to Reduce Electronic Waste (E-Waste): 10 Simple Tips.

Thanks for Reading Our E-Waste Facts!

Becoming informed about how electronics are disposed of is the first step towards causing real change in our world in regards to climate change. 

If you found this article informative, please do us a favour and share it with your friends using the share buttons below. We can all raise awareness for the dangers of e-waste, together!

This post was kindly sponsored by Cleanlites Recycling.

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