Facts You Didn’t Know About E-Waste


Jan 13, 2020

Facts You Didn’t Know About E-Waste - eCycle Solutions

Electronic recycling is something that needs to be increased globally in order to help curb the e-waste pandemic that has plagued the globe for over a century. However, trying to recycle e-waste can be a daunting challenge for many nations due to the lack of knowledge on the subject, as well as the lack of training and proper recycling facilities needed to properly collect, sort, and recycle e-waste.

Made worse is the fact that the amount of e-waste being produced annually has actually grown in recent years due to a throw-away culture that is perpetuated by most electronics manufacturers. Such companies release annual “upgrades” to their product lines in order to encourage consumers to throw away their old gadgets to make way for the “latest and greatest” technological innovations.

Here, we will provide you with some startling facts about e-waste that may galvanize you to take action and help recycle e-waste with more gusto.

A Pressing Issue in the United States

The United States produces more e-waste per year than any other country, with roughly 10 million tons of electronics being thrown away each year, upon most being dumped into landfills where they will rot in perpetuity.

Moreover, if Americans were to save a million laptops from being thrown into landfills, then the energy that would be saved would be equivalent to the electricity used by over 3,600 American homes per year.

The Importance of Cell Phone Recycling

Did you know that for every million cell phones that are recycled, 33 pounds of pallidum, 35,274 pounds of copper, 75 pounds of gold, and 772 pounds of silver can be recovered? This is according to a recent report published by the Environmental Protection Agency.

If you are not aware as to what palladium is used for, it is commonly used to make parts for watches, surgical instruments, and electrical contacts; making it a highly sought after precious metal.

Moreover, based on recent e-waste disposal rates, people in the United States throw out cell phones that house over 60 million dollars worth of silver and gold every year. Despite these alarming figures, only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled, which means that nearly 90% of e-waste is improperly disposed of, exacerbating the global warming crisis.

The Importance of Circuit Board Recycling

Unbeknownst to many people, recycling circuit boards is actually more valuable than mining for ore and other precious minerals. For example, a single ton of circuit boards will contain anywhere from 40 to 800 times the amount of gold that a single metric ton of ore contains.

In regards to copper, it is estimated that a ton of circuit boards will contain between 30 to 40 times the amount of copper found in a single ton of ore that is mined from the earth.

A Global Crisis

According to the United Nations, over 50 million metric tons of e-waste are discarded each year, with most being shipped overseas to impoverished nations such as India and China. Unfortunately, many poor countries lack the training, regulations, and equipment to efficiently and safely sort, dispose, reuse, and recycle e-waste; which leads to increased pollution, as well as multiple diseases and fatalities that result from the improper handling of hazardous waste.

For example, many old television sets and cathode ray tubes house about six pounds of lead, which is a deadly neurotoxin. In addition, due to the improper handling and disposal of such deadly neurotoxins, lead and mercury can leach into the ground and contaminate local food and water supplies.

In addition, many poor nations that already have a myriad of social, political, economic, and health issues to deal with, are further impacted by the tens of millions of metric tons of e-waste that are dumped onto their shores, with global estimates hitting 40 million recently.

Resources are also wasted in order to transport tens of millions of tons of e-waste to various countries, which further compounds the water and air pollution problems plaguing the global ecosystem.

Less is More

According to a recent study published by the Electronics Takeback Coalition, it takes 1.5 tons of water, 48 pounds of chemicals, and over 500 pounds of fossil fuel in order to fabricate a single monitor and computer.

Given the fact that millions of computers are thrown out to make way for newer and slimmer models, producing less computers, and using the computers that consumers currently own for longer periods of time would reduce the amount of computers that need to be manufactured daily. This would also reduce the amount of computers that are thrown into landfills.

Not All E-Waste Companies are Created Equal

Some people wrongly assume that all e-waste companies are the same. In reality, some companies will use the most advanced recycling methods in order to maximize their recycling strategies, while others will cut corners and costs by using less safe and efficient recycling processes. Then, there are companies that are outright fraudulent, and simply take all the e-waste that they claim to recycle and ship it overseas to an impoverished nation.

Due to the fact that many poor countries lack any safety protocols and government regulations, many residents are forced to disassemble the waste by large corporations in order to take advantage of the scrap metal that is produced.

Even worse is that the lack of proper safety equipment and recycling knowhow leaves the residents vulnerable to being exposed to toxic chemicals, which can cause cancer and various neurological problems. In fact, it is estimated that only 29% of the e-waste that is produced annually is handled by the accepted best practice e-waste recycling catalysts.

The eCycle Difference

If you would like to learn more startling facts about e-waste recycling, then please visit our website. We are Canada’s largest and most reputable electronic recycling company, and are committed to going above and beyond the call of duty to help promote a safer and healthier global ecosystem.

While we provide recycling for organizations and businesses, we also provide collections and logistical support, online reporting, and data destruction services as well.

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