20+ Worrying Statistics About E-Waste Recycling
E-waste is what we call old cellphones, laptops, desktops, and other electronic devices. You may actually produce more e-waste than you think. Your digital oven thermometer, dashcam, smart thermostat, and all other digital items count as e-waste once you’re done with them. The average American has 24 of these devices in their home. According to the EPA, even though these devices all have precious metals that we need to recycle, only 12% of e-waste is recycled globally.
Most of it ends up in trash bags and landfills, often in developing countries, where it can harm human health and the environment. Many cities in the United States send their garage to the third world, so if you ignore disposal laws and toss your e-waste in the garbage, it could end up impacting someone’s health.
Understanding the magnitude of our e-waste problem can be tough. Only 31% of Americans know that e-waste isn’t recycled enough. Here are 20+ worrying statistics about e-waste recycling that you need to know.
The Amount of E-Waste
The EPA estimates that the U.S. produces 23.7 million tons of e-waste annually, from both homes and business.
Americans will throw away (instead of recycling) $55 billion in e-waste every year. This is more than the GDP of some small countries.
Worldwide, there is even more e-waste. Globally, we are expected to produce 50 million tons of e-waste yearly. This amount rises between 4 and 5 % every year.
Businesses also generate a lot of e-waste, so it is important to recycle at work too. For example, Target recycled 5718 pounds of e-waste per year.
The EPA has found that e-waste is growing faster than all other kinds of municipal waste, including over food waste.
Many precious metals are in our e-waste. If we recycled one million cell phones, we would get roughly 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, 33 pounds of palladium and 35,000 pounds of copper.
E-waste isn’t just computers and phones. Globally, e-waste is almost as much large equipment as it is small equipment. Air conditioners and furnaces also make up a large portion of e-waste.
Only 42% of Americans report that they recycle their batteries and e-waste.
Up to 2% of trash in American landfills is e-waste. But this trash makes up 70% of toxic waste.
Our e-waste also ends up in other countries. An estimated 40% of e-waste is sent to Asia, where it can seriously harm people’s health as it is not always properly managed.
If we recycled 1 million laptops per year, we would save enough energy to power 3,657 US homes for a year.
These savings are due to the amount of energy (as well as water and chemicals) it takes to produce the technology in the first place. A single monitor and computer will take 530 lbs of fossil fuels, along with 48 pounds of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water.
Now that you understand more about e-waste consider spreading the news to your friends and family members to recycle their e-waste instead of just tossing it out.