ISSUE: WHERE IS ALL THE E-WASTE GOING?
We all love the instant communications, information and entertainment our computers, smart phones, and other electronic devices provide. Each new generation of products brings us even more must-have advantages. But every time a newer, better electronic device arrives, an older one becomes obsolete.
A lot of this out-of-date electronic technology gathers dust for years in closets, attics and basements. Eventually it will have to be disposed of. But how?
We're Buying More Electronic Products Than Ever. And We Abandon Them Faster.
Americans now own approximately 24 different electronic products per household. This includes computers, cell phones, televisions, and other devices – that's a total of nearly three billion electronic products in all.
Due to constant innovations and increasingly affordable pricing, consumers are replacing older devices at a rapid rate. While e-waste still only accounts for no more than eight percent of municipal waste, that amount is growing three times as fast as other solid wastes. In fact, e-waste is the fastest growing type of municipal solid waste in the country.
But today's e-waste is just the tip of the iceberg. Compared to the number of electronic products being purchased, relatively few of them are entering the waste stream so far – they're largely in storage in people's homes and offices. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that possibly three-quarters of all computers sold in this country are just sitting around – unused but not thrown away.