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E-Waste Facts: What You Need to Know


What comes to mind when you hear the word recycling? Is it some variation of the usual suspects of paper, plastic, and cans? What if you were told that there is an entirely different segment of products that we are mostly overlooking? Due to shorter product life-cycles and growing consumer demand, electronic waste, or "e-waste", is becoming a larger issue every year, and it is one society hasn't quite figured out how to deal with yet. Here are some e-waste facts you need to know:

  1. In the U.S, each person creates nearly 50 pounds of e-waste every year.

  2. In the U.S, an estimated 150 million phones are thrown in the trash every year, with this expected to continue to grow.

  3. As far back as 2007, electronic waste made up 2% of U.S. landfills, while generating 70% of its toxic waste.

  4. Many states have not banned putting electronics into the regular trash.

  5. China took in 70% of the world's e-waste up till 2018, when it instituted a ban on these imports to address domestic pollution and health concerns. Consequently, more electronics have been sent to landfills.

  6. How many resources are used to manufacture a computer? Approximately 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water. In fact, 81% of a desktop computer's total energy consumption occurs during its manufacturing.

  7. Recycling electronics can be more valuable than mining for the same raw materials. For instance, pound for pound, circuit boards contain anywhere from 40 to 800 times more gold than ore. Similarly, one ton of used cell phones (approximately 6000 units) yields $15,000 in precious metals. In China alone, the value of metals found in e-waste is expected to total nearly $24 billion USD by 2030.

  8. E-waste is creating new jobs, particularly for those struggling to re-enter the workforce. For example, recyclers in California and Indiana have created job programs for former prison inmates as a way to help them avoid recidivism. Across the world, millions of people work to dispose of electronic waste, with China leading the way at 600K. In contrast with disposal, computer reuse creates 296 more jobs for every 10,000 tons of material disposed each year.

Are you or your organization in need of an electronics recycling partner in Washington State or Oregon? Living Green Technology offers a variety of services, including free recycling, IT asset disposition for larger businesses, secure data destruction, and refurbished electronics for sale. Contact us today!


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