eWaste (electronics waste) is the fastest growing form of toxic waste in the world. It is probably no surprise, that considering our current age of technology and computers, eWaste makes up a significant portion of waste on the Earth. However, what is surprising to most people is that eWaste is toxic. How can this be? Electronics are just a casement of plastic and metal right? Well, when we take a closer look at the many different elements that go into making up the many different electronic components and processes used in everything from computers to refrigerators, eWaste is alot more than just metal and plastic.
Some of the toxic substances of eWaste include the heavy metals, Mercury, Cadmium and Lead, as well as potential carcinogenic substances like polychlorinated biphenyls. In fact, nearly 70% of all heavy metals found in landfills comes from electronic equipment. On average, computers and monitors are 20% Lead by weight and contain a total amount of Lead ranging anywhere from 4 to 8 pounds - all of which is now steadily collecting as a toxic pollutant to the environment.
And while the entire world still has a long way to go in developing more effective eWaste recycling programs, the U.S. is especially dealing with a serious issue. Just in the State of California alone (where eWaste recycling programs are making progress), 2.2 million computers are sold every year. This correlates into approximately 6,000 computers being discarded or put out of commission every day.
A positive side to all of this is that many people are not throwing their computers away, but instead are storing them in their attics at home or in the garage. Nut quite sure what to do with such high value items, people often think of selling their old computers off at a garage sale or giving it to the Salvation Army or Good Will. And while this is a good temporary solution, we are going to have to face the fact that we can't keep lugging around our old unused electronics. Even the Salvation Army is unsure about what it should be doing with the steady stream of computers and other eWaste that is coming in so fast it can't even be given away. For now, however, it's a good thing all this outdated electronics is not being added to the tons and tons of eWaste that is already exponentially growing every year. Right now, eWaste Represents 2-5% of the total composition of municipal waste in the U.S., which apparently is the highest ratio of eWaste in the world.
Other countries have made considerable progress in easing the burden of eWaste. Switzerland was the first country to set up an electronic waste recycling system, which began with refrigerators but now includes all forms of electronic waste. The European Union has also set up regulations that hold electronics manufacturers financially responsible for giving consumers the opportunity to return their old electronics to be reused or recycled free of charge.
So, depending on where you live, your options to recycle your old computer, microwave or television might be limited. The best thing you can do is a little research. Find out where the closest recycling center or landfill is to your residence and call to inquire if there is a drop-off center for eWaste, and if so, the dates and times for collection. An even more conventient option is to use the services of a junk removal company.