E-Waste: Out With The Old, In With The New

E-Waste: 11 Interesting Facts!

E-WasteOver the last 25 years the usage of electronic items has grown substantially. This growth has completely revolutionised the speed and means with which we communicate with each other and how we obtain information and are entertained. Recent figures produced by the Environmental Agency have shown that the average British citizen owns 24 individual electronic items in their home.

Like anything else electronic products produce waste as old, outdated and obsolete items are frequently upgraded for new and more effective models and items. The disposal of these old electrical items produces “e-waste”. Due to the massive increase in the usage of electrical products and associated items the amount of e-waste being produced has also grown substantially. Collected beneath are eleven e-waste facts.

  • Each year between 20 and 50 million metric tons of e-waste is produced globally.
  • As it stands currently only about 12.5% of E-waste is recycled.
  • In 2012 alone, 80-85 per cent of disposed electrical items were either dumped in landfills or burned in an incinerator.  This process produces hazardous pollutants which are damaging to the environment.
  • In America, e-waste only represents 2% of the nation’s total rubbish collected in landfill sites. However this 2% represents an astounding 70% of the country’s overall toxic waste. This is because electrical items contain a number of harmful minerals, including lead. The lead which is found in e-waste is incredibly harmful to humans and other life forms, as it causes damage to both the central and peripheral nervous systems, the kidneys and also to the circulatory system.
  • The energy which is saved by recycling one million laptops is equivalent to the electrical power which is required to power 3657 British homes for an entire year.
  • Mobile phones contain a substantial amount of metals and minerals. To demonstrate, recycling one million phones means that 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 72 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered and then recycled.
  • E-waste is easily the fastest growing source of municipal waste within the UK, according to the Environmental Agency.
  • As already mentioned, mobile phones contain a number of metals, minerals and even precious metals. Each year British citizens bin phones which have a combined value of £45 million in gold and silver.
  • In order to manufacture one computer and monitor it takes a combined 539 pounds of various fossil fuels, 48 pounds of assorted chemicals and 1.5 metric tons of water.
  • An unbelievable amount of e-waste is in fact not waste. It is instead whole computers, associated accessories and parts which are perfectly suitable for resale or can be recycled to recover the contained materials.
  • A large number of electrical items are considered hazardous. Here are some but not all of these hazardous items:
    • LCD screens, including, LCD computer monitors, LCD televisions, laptop computers with LCD screens and portable DVD players with LCD screens.
    • Plasma televisions.
    • Televisions and computer monitors which contain cathode ray tubes.

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