10 Things You Didn’t Know About e-Waste

Violence, pollution, and poverty stem from America’s addiction to electronics

eWaste 2

Did you know that when your cell phone dies, it’s not completely useless? Before you drop it into the nearest garbage can, think about these 10 facts.

[RELATED: [Report] Global E-waste Topped 41 Billion Metric Tons in 2014]

  1. Over 40 million tons of electric and electronic waste (e-waste) are produced worldwide every year. That includes refrigerators, computers, television sets, ovens, telephones, air conditioning units, lamps, toasters, and other electric and electronic devices.
  2. Only a small part of this waste – about 15.5% in 2014 – is recycled with methods that are efficient and environmentally safe, according to an article published on AlJazeeera.com.
  3. Customers will buy more than 1.8 billion new cell phones by the end of this year and recycle only 3% of them.
  4. The gases released at a heavily polluted e-waste dump site in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, are so toxic that the United States nonprofit Blacksmith Institute has named it one of the 10 dirtiest places in the world. This suburb of Accra is home to about 40,000 people, but the Ghanaian environmental authorities say the pollution affects more than five times that many people in the surrounding area.
  5. “There is a direct connection between our consumer appetites and the violence in Eastern Congo as a result of your cell phone,” according to John Prendergrast of the EnoughProject. Armed groups, many of them children, make millions each year trading conflict minerals – the tungston, tantalum, tin and gold found in every cell phone – for guns. Minors in the Congo and Ghana are some of the most impoverished people in the world, making less than $1.50 per day. Responsible recycling of your electronics can help reduce the amount of conflict minerals needed each year.
  6. A large number of what is labeled as e-waste is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or that can be recycled for materials recovery. For example, for every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered, reports DoSomeThing.org.
  7. Revenue for the cell phone recycling industry is estimated to increase some 13% until 2019, surpassing $700 million, according to a recently updated report from IBISWorld.
  8. The U.S. ranks as the No. 1 e-waste generating country. China, India, Japan and Russia follow.
  9. The illegal disposal of electronic appliances poses a threat to both human health and the environment, a new UNEP report says. Yet, the report warns that growing demand for electronics could see the 42 million tons of annual e-waste increase by 10 million annually over the next two years.
  10. We can reduce e-waste, pollution, and deadly conflicts in impoverished nations if we create a demand for conflict-free products from electronics manufacturers. If an auditing process were used to verify claims of ethical production from suppliers, it would add a penny to the cost of a cell phone. Visit RaisingHopeforCongo.org to commit to buying conflict-free electronics and sign their petition.


One Response to 10 Things You Didn’t Know About e-Waste

  1. Pingback: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About e-Waste | BlackPride.in

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