E-Waste….where does it go?


Burning E-Waste

Burning E-Waste (Source-Greenpeace.org)


E-Waste or “electronic waste” may be defined as discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment device electronicsmobile phonestelevision sets and refrigerators. This definition includes used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal. (Source:Wikipedia)

According to the US EPA, more than 4.6 million tonnes of e-waste ended up in US landfills in 2000. Toxic chemicals in electronics products can leach into the land over time or are released into the atmosphere, impacting nearby communities and the environment.

E-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law. Inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found as much as 47 percent of waste destined for export, including e-waste, was illegal. In the UK alone, at least 23,000 metric tonnes of undeclared or ‘grey’ market electronic waste was illegally shipped in 2003 to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention.

Some of these countries take this e-waste and burn it to get the plastic away from the precious metals. Some even use children as young as 12 years old to separate the e-waste and put it into burning barrels. This is why using proper channels to recycle your electronics is so important. The harder we work to keep our e-waste from being shipped to developing contries, the better chances these children have of growing up healthy.

You can go to e-Stewards to find recyclers in your area who hold an e-Stewards certification. The e-Stewards certification process awards the e-Stewards designation only to those organizations that fully operate in conformance with the standard. No second-party declarations or self-declarations of conformance to the standard are allowed; only accredited, independent certification of conformity is possible.

This is my second post on this subject. You can learn more from my previous post Volunteering.


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