Electronic Waste

 

Millions of tons of e-waste, including computers, printers, mobile phones, and TV’s are shipped to China, India and Africa for disassembling and disposing. Why? Economic efficiency – it is cheaper to export e-waste than to follow stricter environmental and safety rules at home. Many discarded electronics are nearly new, from world famous brands, with fixable defects.Entire families and communities are involved with e-waste, some so poor and desperate to make money that they ignore the risks of toxic poisoning. Fathers, mothers and children disassemble wires and circuits with bare hands, extract precious metals using mercuric acid baths without proper protective gear. Lead poisoning, for example, increases stillbirths and premature birth rates. Hanging in the air and floating in blackened rivers, toxins poison people and the environment.

Global change comes slowly, but small changes in our daily lives are possible, and they are essential indeed.

 

Why should we care? 

  • E-waste is becoming a global epidemic with serious consequences.
  • Most of the e-waste is shipped to developing countries for recycling illegally, and by producing more e-waste, we are supporting the trend.
  • Certain elements of e-waste are extremely toxic and have devastating effects on humans handling it.
  • The atmosphere, animal and marine life are also victims to toxins and pollutants coming from e-waste.
  • It is safer and more economically efficient to buy durable and repairable electronics.

 

Fast Facts

 

  • E-waste is the fastest growing source of waste in North America.
  • Each year, 20-50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide.
  • Approximately 80% of  e-Waste in the U.S. is exported to Asia.
  • Millions of tons of e-waste are sent to China, India and Kenya where lower environmental standards and working conditions make processing more profitable than recycling in wealthy countries.
  • It is reported that 80% of all Asian children have elevated levels of lead in their systems as a result of massive handling of e-waste without proper protection measures.
  • About 300 million computers and 1 billion cell phones are produced each year, and the global pile of e-waste is expected to continue growing at the rate of 8% per year.
  • Modern electronics contain up to 60 different elements – many valuable, some hazardous, and some both.
  • Manufacturers are starting to take greater responsibility for their products from cradle to grave but need strong consumer encouragement.
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