E -Waste is the Fastest Growing Part of the Waste Stream.

Just like batteries, electronics seem safe to use, but if we throw them out, they can leak toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium into our water and air.

One computer monitor can contain 4-8 pounds of lead, which if released, can hurt an entire community.

The problem has reached crisis level because of the sheer volume of electronic waste being created around the world everyday.

E-Waste Ewaste

  • There are 500 million obsolete computers in the U.S. alone.
  • 130 million cell phones are disposed of annually.
  • 20 - 24 million TV's and computers are stored annually in homes and offices.
  • Only 10% of unwanted and obsolete computers are recycled

That is a lot of plastic and PVC.

Third World Worries

With rapid advances in technology, computer, and other tech toys have a shelf life of no more than a few years. This means that "e-waste" or "tech trash" is on a frightening rise. The EPA says Americans recycled 34,000,000 (million) pounds of e-waste last year, but most of it still ends up in a landfill, or remains in the garage, as people don't know where to turn.

From the illegal dumping of hazardous waste in foreign countries to selling old hard drives to identity thieves, recycling an old computer today raises a myriad of concerns. When combined with other forms of electronic, or e-waste - cell phones, TVs and cameras -1.3 billion pounds of materials were recycled that year. A good deal of that poundage could produce diesel.

An old computer monitor or TV set contains an average of 4 pounds of lead, according the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Other electronics devices, including desktop computers can contain chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, and zinc. How these elements are extracted is coming under increasing scrutiny and concern.

Mike Wright, president of Guaranteed Recycle Xperts, a Denver-based electronics recycler says:

In the past, the solution has been to fill containers with unwanted equipment and ship it overseas to a third world country where lax environmental laws allow low-wage workers to violently disassemble them to get to the parts that have value.

He said that burning or acid bath techniques used to cull precious elements like copper from wires, gold and platinum from motherboards, etc., produce harmful, if not deadly, toxins—often these toxins end up in the soil or rivers while furans and dioxins permeate the atmosphere. This black, perpetual twilight over Shanghai and the Guangzhou corridor eventually rises to the jet stream, that flows east across the Pacific toward United States.

Investigators who visited the waste sites in Guiyu, China, in December saw men, women and children pulling wires from computers and burning them, fouling the air with carcinogenic smoke.

Burning garbage in a village.Three of the five major tributaries in China are totally polluted, running black with chemicals, dyes, hydrocarbons and untold other contaminants; more than 190 times the pollution levels allowed under World Health Organization guidelines. The average 8-year-old child hired to attack these e-carcasses is afflicted with lead poisoning, tuberculosis, and carries gross skin lesions.

A new report documents one such "cyber-age nightmare" . . . a cluster of villages in southeastern China where computers still bearing the labels of their one-time owners in America are ripped apart and strewn along rivers and fields.

It is actually illegal to ship e-waste to certain countries, such as China, Wright said. Still, a large number of devices are being sent to traditional landfills, where moisture will erode parts of the device, washing lead and other harmful materials into the watershed. Electronic waste is growing in landfills three times faster than other types of waste.

A sizable CC unit at major city landfills, or on a dedicated plot, could conceivably devour this humongous amount of plastic casings safely and without emissions nor health problems.

While it is the right of a sovereign country to dictate their own affairs, it needs to be ethically addressed while an intrinsic member of a planet. Your large oak tree can hang over my fence an drop acorns in my yard.

Guide to greener electronics

Guide to Greener Electronics.

A report titled "Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia" says the export of electronic waste to third world countries is a "a cyber-age nightmare" which is responsible for environmental damage.

  • The Panamanian flagged ship Probo Koala unloaded more than 550 tons of toxic waste at Abidjan port in Cote d'Ivoire a month back. Emissions from that toxic waste have killed seven people and poisoned thousands.
    Leading environmentalists have condemned the move. "The disaster in Abidjan is a particularly painful illustration of the human suffering caused by the illegal dumping of wastes," according to United Nations Environmental Programme executive director Achim Steiner.
  • About two-thirds of the electronics waste collected for recycling in the United States is currently being shipped to Pakistan, India and China where it is either reused or recycled but in most cases it is simply dumped into open fields, river banks, ponds, wetlands and ditches.
  • The Shershah locality in Karachi is one of the principal markets for second-hand e-waste and scrap materials in Pakistan where all sorts of used electronics, electricals, spare parts and computers and smuggled goods arrive by sea and land for sale or further distribution to other cities.

The reality is that this burgeoning new trade is not driven by altruism, but rather by the immense profits that can be made through it and those involved are oblivious to, or apathetic with, its adverse consequences

In that the CC has such a voracious appetite for plastic, it is difficult for us to remain silent on this worldwide transgression on the environment, when it offers a viable alternative.