In 2019, the world produced a staggering 48.6 million tons of electronic waste, representing a 21% growth over 5 years. Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, isn’t just harmless junk—it’s toxic trash that contaminates our planet and harms both humans and animals.
In this guide, you’ll learn the details of what makes up e-waste, why it’s so dangerous to the environment, and how we can all make changes in our own lives to help end the e-waste crisis today.
What Is Electronic Waste?
E-waste refers to discarded electronic devices. This can be anything from old cell phones and computers to smart devices like tablets and TVs.
Getting rid of electronics like these is devastating to the environment. E-waste contains harmful substances like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.
When put in a landfill, these substances leak into soil and water systems. So, e-waste not only endangers the environment, but also the health of all humans. The toxic chemicals leaked into our water from e-waste can cause cancer, reproductive problems, and even birth defects.
How Did E-waste Become a Problem?
Every piece of e-waste has recycling potential. So, why are these discarded devices in landfills instead of recycling centers?
The short answer is lack of access. Most people don’t live near an electronic recycling facility. This means that people who want to recycle their e-waste have no choice but to throw it away with their regular trash.
Another reason is education. Not everyone knows how big a problem technology waste is. Or, they don’t know their options when it comes to e-waste recycling.
What Can We Do to Fight E-waste?
You can use your voting power to combat e-waste in your state. Some states already enforce severe penalties against those who throw out old electronics. California has already called for large corporations like Target to pay millions after tossing mass amounts of electronics.
You can also help fight technology waste by getting involved in recycling programs where you live. Start by making sure you and your family members all know where to recycle your e-waste.
If your city doesn’t have proper e-waste recycling facilities, you can even organize one yourself. Getting involved with your community to help increase e-waste recycling also spreads awareness.
The E-Waste Recycling Process
Most e-waste is a mix of recyclable components like glass, metals, plastic, and wires. E-waste disposal companies will usually package your e-waste for recycling, then send it for processing.
Processing facilities use chemical means to extract valuable materials from e-waste products. For example, they extract copper using a cyanide solution.
The recovered materials are then sold back into global markets. Some e-waste recycling experts call this a circular economy because it allows countries to recycle their own waste instead of relying on foreign resources.
Recycling Tips and More on the Recess Tips Blog
In addition to e-waste recycling, there are many things we can do to help the environment from home. You can start changing your environmental impact by adjusting your lifestyle.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to make major changes. Visit the Recess Tips blog today to find out about minor lifestyle changes that have a huge impact!