Electronic waste or eWaste is basically any piece of electrical equipment that is discarded improperly. That is very vague and broad, but you get the picture. The amazing thing about this term is that it was something that was rarely discussed years ago. Even going back further, it didn't even exist! But now as we are entering into a new generation and a future where eWaste is going to continue to grow unless we learn to control it, it is becoming more critical to properly dispose of this waste. Not that people aren't aware of the fact it should be recycled but I think the problem lies in the lack of information about peoples disposal. When was the last time you knew what to do with your old laptop? I don't know about you but I still have one sitting in my closet. Oh not to mention my four cell phones too.
The amount of eWaste disposed of improperly at a glance is extremely overwhelming. Now I wish I was able to tell you something to make you believe otherwise. But until people become more aware of what to do with eWaste or where to dispose of various types of electronic waste, these numbers will not change.
Let us take a look at some of the numbers published by the http://www.epa.gov a few years back that outline how much electronic waste was discarded and not recycled properly:
- 41.1 million desktops and laptops
- 31.9 million computer monitors
- 400 million total units
- Over 3 million tons total
- 20-50 million tons worldwide
- Only 13.6% was recycled
To paint a picture let us take a look at the two cities where I have resided for the majority of my life, San Diego and New Jersey (I choose the whole state because my home town is so small). I began by performing a Google search to see what options for eWaste recycling are available in San Diego County. To my knowledge there are approximately 42 electronic waste recycling facilities in the San Diego area. These facilities will allow you to properly dispose of the following types of waste:
- Cell phones, PDAs, pagers
- Computer monitors
- Computer software disks
- Laptop computers
- Printers/scanners/fax machines
- Stereos/radios/MP3 players or iPods
- Telephones/answering machines
- Televisions (including plasma and LCD)
- VCRs/DVD players
- Video game consoles
Now in my home state New Jersey, let us look at the results that Google provided. In the entire state there are only 9 electronic waste recycling facilities! That is only 21% of what just San Diego County alone has. Not even the entire state! I found that completely astonishing being that NJ is one of the most populated states in the United States. Now I am not going to claim that my hometown state is one of the most forward thinking states but I am sure it is leaps and bounds above many others. So if San Diego is on the progressive forward side of the spectrum and NJ is on the lower end imagine how many other states, cities, or counties out there have even less options for eWaste recycling? This needs to change and hopefully in due time it will!