What is "E-Waste"? E-waste is an ever-growing popular, yet informal name for a variety of electronic products that have met the end of their "useful life", such as computers, televisions, monitors, laptops, cell Phones, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines and so on.
These are just a few of the common electronic products that fall into the e-waste category. As a result, it is not surprising that electronic discard is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's trash, already consisting of 5% of the total trash volume.
Alarmingly, these figures lack what researchers estimate is nearly an additional 75% of old electronics that are stuck in storage, in part because of the uncertainty of how to manage the materials. What the populace also doesn't know are the hazards the materials contain.
- In recent years, advances in consumer electronics and personal computers have spurred economic growth, changed information technology and improved people lives in countless ways.
- However, our growing dependence on electronic products both at home and in the workplace has given rise to a new environmental hazard: electronic waste. A recent study by the EPA shows that electronics already makes up 1% of the known municipal solid waste stream. Research completed in Europe showed that electronic waste is an epidemic growing at an astronomical three times the rate of other municipal waste.
- While e-waste cannot be prevented, environmental consequences have driven government policies to explore alternative solutions such as the reuse and/or recycling of older electronics.
- According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an estimated 30 to 40 million PCs will be ready for "end-of-life management" in each of the next few years.
- About 25 million TVs are taken out of service yearly.
- The EPA estimates that in 2005, the U.S. discarded 1.5 to 1.9 million tons (3 billion lbs.) of computers, TVs, VCRs, monitors, cell phones, and other equipment.
- According to the UN Environment Programme, the worldwide total for e-waste could be 50 million tons per year.