[Editors note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]
E-Waste, or electronic waste, eventually shows up everywhere in our homes and offices.
One of the by-products of living in a country that is so materially wealthy is the vast amount of junk, garbage and waste that is produced. When you consider that sheer volume of durable goods this country produces, imports and buys it is mind boggling.
The United States contains less that five percent of the world's population, but we hold a wildly disproportionate amount of the world's wealth. And, along with that wealth, we possess an overabundance of material goods.
Drowning In Stuff: From Clothes to Electronics
An article in Intellectual Takeout featured a number of statistics that helps illustrate the reality of how much Americans own:
- There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
- While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
- 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
- The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).
- 10. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
- Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
- Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).
So what do we do with all that e-waste? There are essentially three options:
- Keep it
- Toss it
- Recycle it
If we keep it, we start accumulating piles of out dated TVs, phones, printers and computers that take up valuable space in our homes or offices. Fortunately, for most people, it is illegal for us to simply "toss it" but even if it's not against the state law, it's never a good option. Unfortunately, not enough people consider the recycling option.
In fact, of an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste ends up in the waste stream every year less than 20 percent of that pile is recycled.
Junk Hauling and E-Waste Disposal Problems
Over half the states in the U.S. now have some type of e-waste recycling legislation in place. In a few states, such as California, many items such as monitors, TVs, and even cell phones cannot be simply tossed in the trash.
In fact, in many places if you do choose to properly dispose of a computer monitor or old TV, especially an old CRT unit, the process takes time, effort and money.
Proper recycling is far preferable to dumping in landfills because of the toxic nature of e-waste. In fact, even though e-waste only makes up about two percent of the municipal waste stream in America, it is among the most toxic waste component.
Personal electronics, TVs and office equipment are perfectly safe in the home or office, but if they are broken apart or left in the elements to and rust all a variety of toxic materials can seep out. Among other things this can include lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and barium.
Recycling E-Waste As A Preferred Option
Aside from protecting the environment, having an effective e-waste recycling program in place helps provide a financial boost to the economy.
According to a study published by the International Data Corporation it was found that e-waste recycling provided work for 30,000 full-time employees while contributing over five billion dollars to the U.S. economy since 2002.
The number of e-waste items in the U.S. will only grow larger as more and newer devices come onto the market. It's estimated that as of 2015 Americans have been replacing their cell phones every 22 months on average, and upgrading our personal computers every two years.
If you add up all the devices that get disposed of at that rate, the e-waste alone we throw out annually could fill up to 60 landfills.
What the E-Waste Recycling Situation Looks Like
Benefits of Recycled E-Waste
In addition to helping the planet and minimizing the use of landfills, massive amounts of materials and resources can be saved by recovering and reusing those available in e-waste products.
Statistics from the EPA help to illustrate the vast amount of reclaimed raw materials that can be extracted from e-waste:
- For every one million cell phones that are recycled 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered. Americans throw out phones containing over $60 million in gold and/or silver every year.
- Recycling circuit boards can be more cost-effective than mining for ore. One ton of circuit boards is estimated to contain 40-800 times more gold than one metric ton of ore. There is 30-40 times more copper in a ton of circuit boards that can be mined from one metric ton of ore.
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year, according to the EPA.
There are massive economic and environmental benefits to recycling e-waste. However, there is still much to achieve towards becoming fully efficient with e-waste recycling. Currently, only around 12 to 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to the EPA and other sources. But the potential is there for recycling and reclaiming vast amounts of valuable materials and resources found in e-waste materials.
Professional Junk Removal is a Great Option for E-Waste
Junk King provides an efficient, safe and eco-friendly e-waste removal service so you don’t need to worry about the pick up or disposal of those old items. Not only that, but we make sure that your old electronics end up in the right place: whether it be a charity if the electronics are still functioning, or a recycling facility to ensure your e-waste is disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
We remove almost all types of e-waste, including:
- Copy Machines