The Growing Problem of E-Waste: What Happens to Your Old Electronics?

We all know how hard it is to resist the newest electronics the moment they hit the shelves. A computer with a faster operating system, a TV better with better resolution, a phone with a bigger screen — the list of reasons to replace old electronics is lengthy!  But given that we’re regularly replacing old electronics with new ones, it’s important to make sure that we all dispose of those old pieces of consumer tech properly.The Growing Problem of E-Waste: What Happens to Your Old Electronics?
Why? Because the growing problem of e-waste has huge consequences.

“E-waste,” or electronic waste, is a term for electronic products that have reached the end of their useful life. They may be obsolete, non-functioning or unwanted.  E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

According to a recent report backed by the United Nations, on an annual basis, we produce a staggering 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste globally. This is enough waste to fill a line of heavy-duty trucks stretched halfway around the world… every single year!

According to the U.N. report, only 16% of global e-waste is disposed of properly. In the U.S. alone we generate 3.2 million tons of e-waste each year and 80% of it eventually ends up in landfills.

E-waste contains materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, and brominated flame retardants which are toxic when inhaled. These materials pollute rivers and soil, and pose myriad human health risks.

Throwing out e-waste rather than recycling it also leads to a huge loss in valuable resources. Cell phones and personal computers, for example, contain valuable metals like gold and copper that can be harvested for a profit and reused to make new electronics devices.

“Only 16% of e-waste is disposed of properly”

There are a number of things that we as electronics users can do to help tackle the problem of e-waste. For starters, by buying from retailers like BLINQ you are supporting a more sustainable supply chain by saving products from being landfilled in the first place.

There are also tons of great resources online to help you reduce and properly dispose of your used electronics. Check out our tips on reducing, reusing and recycling old electronics.  We also love the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s guide to “Recycle it Right.”  This quick and easy 5-step resource will help you ensure that you dispose of electronics in an environmentally friendly manner.

So before you toss that old keyboard or flip phone in the trash, please remember the consequences and do your part to help reduce our mountain of e-waste.

Author: Ann

Ann has lived in Washington, D.C. for three years and loves that she can bike to work everyday. When she isn't working as our Sustainability Director, Ann can be found hiking in Shenandoah National Park or at home perfecting her homemade ice cream recipes.

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