E-Waste and The Disposal of Old Electronics

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As technology changes nearly daily, many of us find ourselves throwing out the old to replace the new. Few of us ask, where do all of our old electronics end up?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can tell you, they estimate that it isnít being recycled because three quarters of the computers sold in the US end up in landfills or incinerators. Electronics in the landfill has officially been labeled e-waste due to the great amount of it and the problems it is causing.

More than 4.6 million tons of e-waste was estimated to be in American landfills in 2000 alone. These electronics seep chemicals into the ground over time as well as the atmosphere. Because of this toxicity, many European countries have put regulations on the dumping of electronics. But this hasnít stopped other countries who canít afford to regulate dumping or donít care. For example, Hong Kong has allowed 10 to 20 percent of the discarded computers to go into their landfill.

So what does one do? If you incinerate electronics, they release heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury into the air as well as into the ground through their ashes. Mercury accumulates in the atmosphere and next thing you know one finds it in their fish. If an electronic device contains PVC plastic, then when burned, toxins such as dioxins and furans are released into the air.

Knowing the problem discarding electronics has been causing, many countries and private organizations are now organizing ways to reuse old electronics. Some of these electronics are often repaired and sent to developing countries who cannot afford the latest, greatest and newest.

Recycling electronics is another way countries are taking care of their e-waste. Electronics are completely dismantled where the materials they are made from are then recycled. Because electronics are made up of numerous components, this dismantling is often done by hand. Because this can be expensive in some countries, the problem of exporting e-waste from developed countries to non-developed has become an issue. International laws have been put in place to help prevent this but despite the laws there is still 23,000 metric tons of undeclared or gray market electronic waste shipped to the Far East, India, Africa and China.

Within the United States, individual states are beginning to create laws regarding how one can dispose of electronics. The state of Wisconsin recently banned the dumping of electronics into their landfills. Residents with old televisions, computers or cell phones must recycle them.

The Department of Natural Resources Waste and Materials Management Program in Wisconsin stated that devices are the fastest growing component of waste in the United States. The Director of the department, Ann Coakley said, ď

"Electronics contain resources that are too valuable to waste, and we can help both our economy and the environment by recycling them.Ē

Now that Wisconsin has passed the law, it is expected that neighboring states will pass similar laws so that trash from Wisconsin doesnít come into their landfills.

Today there are ways one can recycle their electronics. They can sell electronics online back to recyclers or if your electronic is too old, send it to a recycling plant. Either way is a win-win situation for the planet and the future.

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Brandon Snow is a marketing associate at Cash Your Tech where you can sell electronics fast and get top dollar for them. Sell your old electronics, sell iPhone, other cell phones, laptops, or consoles and Cash Your Tech will get you money for your used electronics. For more information please visit cashyourtech.com.

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