What REALLY Happens To Our Old Electronics?

From Above the Noise.

Check out Two Cents and the PBS Earth Month Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd2ansbh6Lk&list=PLzkQfVIJun2J5q9CIXPAlL95FSb0tJul7&index=84

America tosses out tons of old electronics every year. Literally! Around 6.92 million tons in 2019 alone and a lot of that e-waste contains toxic chemicals, things like lead and mercury. If those are not handled properly, they can contaminate the environment and cause serious health issues… So what actually happens to all that hazardous e-waste? You might not like the answer…

Basel Action Network: https://www.ban.org/
E-stewards recyclers: https://e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler/

**What is e-waste?
E-waste is basically anything with a plug or battery that you don’t want/ need anymore. It’s your old electronics. And the bad news is that a lot of that stuff contains toxic materials like lead, mercury, and brominated flame retardants. If this waste just gets tossed in landfills or burned in incinerators it can contaminate the environment and cause serious health issues. Smoke from burning e-waste is very toxic.

**What happens to our old electronics?
If you take your e-waste to a collection site or recycler, then those electronics are likely taken to a recycling facility and processed there. E-waste is tricky to recycle because there are so many different types that all contain a different mix of materials, some of which is toxic. At a recycling facility, it’s often sorted, and data is deleted from devices. Some devices or components can be refurbished or reused, while others will be processed. This can mean that parts like metals and plastics can be separated out, and then sold to smelters to go back into manufacturing. But, sometimes recyclers end up shipping old electronics overseas to developing countries– where they do not have strict environmental and safety standards. This exposes workers and the environment to those toxic substances, which has created massive environmental and health problems. The World Health Organization estimates that 18 million children work at these dangerous e-waste dump sites around the globe.

**What should you do with your old electronics?
Dropping your electronics off at an e-stewards certified recycler is one of the best ways to ensure your e-waste won’t go overseas and will be handled responsibly. E-steward-certified recyclers have pledged to not ship their stuff overseas, and handle the waste in an environmentally sound way. They have surprise inspections to make sure they are doing so.

What is a circular economy?
A circular economy is the opposite of designing for the dump. Instead of extracting raw materials from the earth, making something, and then dumping it when you’re done with it, you would reuse and recycle materials and use those materials in the manufacturing process so that you are generating less waste and extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. E-waste recycling is part of the circular economy.

Staggering E-waste Statistics 2023 (Toner Buzz)

What is E-waste? (Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership)

The Importance of Cell Phone Recycling (Repowered)

Planned Obsolescence (Consumers International)

Children and Digital Dumpsites (World Health Organization)

A New Circular Vision for Electronics (World Economic Forum)

Global Transboundary E-waste Flows 2022 (United Nations)

00:00 Intro?
00:40 What is e-waste?
01:22 Why is there so much e-waste?
02:54 Where does all our e-waste go?
05:49 e-stewards recyclers and ERI
06:57 A circular economy
07:58 Solving the e-waste problem

#earthday #environment #ewaste