[Editors note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]
Getting a new smartphone for Christmas? So are about 80 million others in U.S. But what about your old phone?
E-Waste, or electronic waste, can likely be found in just about every home and office in America. We are constantly buying new gadgets, or getting them as gifts, and electronic devices are everywhere in our homes and offices.
But when we have old, unwanted, and broken electronic devices we need to dispose of them. These electronic items that are tossed out are known as e-waste, or electronic waste.
And e-waste disposal is a problem.
Given the rate that most of us replace and upgrade electronics to newer models, many if not most of our old gadgets end up not being used any longer. And if we haven't thoughtlessly just tossed them into the trash, they usually end up collecting dust in some drawer or closet.
How many cell phones, computer monitors and even old TV sets have been sitting somewhere in your home unused for over a year now? If you counted more than the fingers on both hands, then it’s probably time to dispose of those e-waste items.
But there is a proper way to do that!
Getting Rid of E-Waste Properly Can Be a Challenge
Every year between "Black Friday" and Christmas, you can bet that there will have been hundreds of thousands of new phones purchased. And, in all likelihood, that means hundreds of thousands of "old" phones that are going to need to be disposed of somehow.
While some of these old phones may be kept around for another family member, or passed on to a friend or charity, most of them will end up being traded in - if they're still new enough - or simply gotten rid of.
And that's just the phones. There are so many varieties of used electronic devices that constitute e-waste that it is overwhelming.
To get a sense of how much e-waste are we talking about, let's just look at cell phones.
According to Statista:
The revenue generated from sales of smartphones in the United States is projected to reach more than 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. This is a rapid increase from the revenue of 18 billion U.S. dollars generated in 2010. In 2013, almost 145 million people in the United States owned a smartphone and this figure is set to rise to 220 million by 2018.
It's been estimated that approximately 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped out world-wide by the end of 2016. Even if only half of those sold replace an older phone which is then disposed of, that still means there could be as many as 550 million phones going into the global waste stream.
Then there are the TVs. Especially the older, cathode ray tube sets. These CRTs are full of lead and a few other not-so-healthy metals and components. How many are there still out there? The truth is, no one knows for sure.
An article in Popular Mechanics a few years back noted,
The EPA has sales figures back to 1980, and since then, 704.9 million CRT televisions have been sold in the U.S. An estimated 42.4 percent of those are still in use. In 2008, the EPA estimates that 23.9 million tube TVs will be disposed of by Americans (that's 711,029 tons of televisions). Numbers for end-of-life TVs have been over 20 million per year since 2005, and are expected to go up to almost 25 million by 2010. Compare this to 10 years ago, when the numbers were closer to 12 million sets disposed of per year.
What we do know is that even today, there are millions of CRT televisions and computer monitors that have yet to be disposed of properly and may never be.
E-Waste, Disposal, and Recycling
Facing increased regulations and added fees for recycling e-waste, it may seems easier to simply through out your old electronics. But the e- waste problem is that it contains toxic materials that are likely to be detrimental to human health.
The facts about e-waste not only indicate the scope of the problem, but the amount of valuable resources that are simply being tossed into landfills each year:
- The EPA states that 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered from every one million cell phones that are recycled,.
- 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 recycled circuit boards that can be mined from one metric ton of ore.
- Recycling one million laptops can save the same amount of electricity used by about 3,600 homes in the U.S. annually, according to the EPA.
- Without recycling, Americans throw out over $60 million in gold and/or silver in old cell phones every year.
With businesses and homeowners facing increased regulations and added fees for e-waste recycling, it may seem easier to just throw out old electronics. In fact, professional junk hauling is not a typical option considered by many people.
However, not only is it often against the law to dispose of most electronics by throwing them in the trash, it's a health hazard because e-waste contains toxic materials that are likely to be detrimental to human health.
Consider Professional Junk Removal for Your 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