Chances are you have used an electronic device today. Oh wait, you're reading this! That means the computer or mobile phone that is allowing you to check out the Zero Waste Communities blog will one day become what is known as electronic waste (e-waste).
Sadly, there are a lot of computers, televisions and other electronic gadgets out there that will be joining other computers and cell phones in a heap of plastic and metal debris. Every year Americans dispose of almost 400 million e-waste items alone. Of that, the EPA estimates that only 20% is being recycled. We are here to change that and we need your help.
While electronic waste only accounts for 2% of all the trash in our landfills, these devices account for a significant 70% of toxic waste. Toxic you ask? Yes, toxic. Almost all electronic devices contain potentially polluting stuff like lead, mercury and sulfur.
So what are we to do? More and more we are relying on these item to entertain us, store our data and perform work tasks. They are becoming an essential part of our lives. While the United States hasn't yet banned these products from our landfills like the European Union did back in the 1990s, recycling centers and other appropriate disposal facilities are popping up all around us.
Not yet convinced you shouldn't just dump your old electronic goods in the ol' landfill? Here are some more facts to mull over. First, dumping electronics in trash in the state of California is actually illegal.
Wait, there's more. Cathode tubes in those old televisions and computers typically contain about 4 to 7 lbs of lead alone!
It is estimated that 50 million cell phones are replaced around the world each month with only 10% ever being recycled and even less are being reused. If we recycled one million of these cell phones, it would be the equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of taking 1,368 cars off the road for an entire year.
One last important item to keep in mind when thinking about e-waste's impact on our environment: electronic goods are more often than not trashed before they even stop working properly! So if you have old electronics that are working properly, why not donate them to someone who may be able to use them instead? It's something to consider before you throw it away.
We hope you will join us in keeping e-waste out of our landfills. If you live in San Bernardino, check out CalRecycle's electronic waste search engine to find the location closest to you. Also, San Bernardino's HHW program also accepts e-waste. So there is no excuse for trashing those electronic gadgets!