Dumping electronic waste (e-waste) is a massive worldwide problem. When talking about toxic time bombs, e-waste is right up there with the top five ecological nightmares that we can choose to deal with now or suffer the consequences of waiting for later.
The amount of e-waste that is generated by the U.S. every year is simply staggering. The U.S. is the world’s top producer of e-waste. According Popular Mechanics we produce 2.25 million tons of used electronics every year and recycle only 18% of our tech toys.
Why? Because we have very few companies here that are wiling to recycle and extract components that have value (like the copper) and because it is simply cheaper to export the electronics and let poor people in developing nations like China, India, Ghana, and Nigeria deal with the toxic waste.
Monitors, keyboards, mainframes, memory cards contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, chromium, beryllium, cobalt, arsenic … all cancer causing agents that are constantly being released into the environment as people in poor countries are enlisted to recycle these old electronics.
The poor, often including children, dismantle dumped PCs and phones, stripping the components for the valuable — and toxic — metals contained inside. In the process these people are constantly being exposed to cancer causing toxins, while their landfills and ground waters are hideously being polluted.
The irony here is that since the U.S. no longer is a manufacturing country, when all those container ships arriving with cheap Chinese made goods are emptied we ship the containers back filled with out electronic waste!
For more on how to recycle your computer go to Treehugger and check with you local community recycling program. Many cities and towns reserve at least one day every year where you can bring your old electronics to be responsibility recycled.
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