Did you know that your obsolete and conked out electronics constitute the world’s fastest-growing source of waste? That’s right. As a matter of fact, the United States generates most of the world’s electronic waste. One would think that your old television set or outdated iPad is harmless. Truth be told, wastes like these contain toxic substances, such as lead and mercury, which are deleterious both to us and the environment. If that’s the case, where do I put my electronic waste?
Where Do I Put My Electronic Waste?
Remember that electronics can’t be tossed out in an ordinary landfill. The best thing you can do in removing commercial and electrical waste products is to recycle them. You can also send them to facilities that reprocess old and worn out electronics. Better yet, you can donate your unwanted electronics if they still work.
According to government data, Americans toss 100 million cell phone units, 41.1 million desktops and laptops, and 20 million tv sets each year. Sadly, only 13 percent of electronic wastes are disposed properly and/or recycled. What’s more alarming is that this number will shoot up by 500 percent in 10 years.
Greenpeace said that electronic waste are disposed in four ways: either through a landfill, by incineration, reusing and recycling, and exportation. In the United States and many progressive countries, laws were passed and guidelines were introduced to prevent electronic waste from being unloaded in landfills. But in least developed countries and in some places, like Hong Kong, discarded electronics are sent to landfill sites.
It has also been a practice to incinerate electronic waste. While this is ideal since it does not require much space, incineration is still a big no as heavy metals are discharged into the atmosphere. It poses deleterious effects not only to the environment, but also to some of our food sources. When released into the atmosphere, fishes and other marine creatures can bioaccumulate the heavy metals.
Electronic wastes are also exported to developing countries, either to be reused or dumped. In 2005, 18 seaports in Europe were inspected and found to illegally ship discarded electronics. While in the United Kingdom, Greenpeace reported that 23,000 metric tonnes of electronic waste were exported to India, Africa and East Asia. This is also practiced in the United States, but is considered legal as the country did not sign the Basel Convention.
So before you put your electronic waste in the bin, think about where it is going and its would-be effects if not disposed properly.