The Dangers of E-Waste and What You Can Do to Help

Written by Cara Mattaliano

Blog Post 7.17.15E-Waste

Do you treat your iPhone, camera, or television set just like any other piece of trash? Have you ever wondered what happens to your electronic waste once it is tossed in the garbage? According to CNN, 70% of all electronic waste in the world is sent to China.

Why is this bad?

Once the e-waste arrives in China or another country, legally or not, it is taken apart and the usable materials are sold back to manufacturers. This process is dangerous and harmful to the workers due to the number of toxic chemicals found in electronic devices, such as lead and fire retardants. Additionally, e-waste recovery can have an extremely detrimental effect on the environment. The pollution that occurs as a result of burning circuit boards or using acid to recover materials like steel can be deadly.

The e-waste recovery industry thrives in Guiya, China, home to thousands of businesses devoted to processing discarded electronics. As a devastating result, this town reportedly has the highest number of cancer-causing toxins in the world, leading to elevated rates of miscarriages and lead poisoning.

What can you do to reduce the amount of e-waste sent to places like Guiya, China every year? 

  1. Sell it. Websites like eBay or craigslist are great outlets for selling electronics, and retailers such as gazelle.com are willing to pay up to $350 for an old-yet-functional iPhone 5s. What better way to say goodbye to your old electronics than with a bump to your bank account?
  2. Donate it. Komputers 4 Kids and Cell Phones for Soldiers are great organizations where a contribution will help someone in need and the environment at the same time
  3. Order a E-Waste Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle’s website. Once purchased, fill the box with your e-waste and send it back to TerraCycle, where the waste is separated and safely recycled.

It takes 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor. Currently, only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled. Be a part of the solution, and help to save the environment!

5 responses »

  1. Thanks so much for these invaluable resources!

  2. This is re-reporting some old and discredited information. For example, CNN’s source backtracked (the statistic had included clean steel and copper dismantled in the USA and sold to China, as well as reuse material).

    http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2013/05/basel-action-network-explains-80-or.html

    For a new, alter-globalist perspective, consider http://www.fairtraderecycling.org It’s a better alternative than impugning overseas technicians and boycotting overseas recyclers.

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