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The Devastating Reality about E-Waste Recycling

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Daliah Okoro
Daliah Okoro
September 19, 2014

With the turnover rate for electronics getting shorter and shorter, consumers are purchasing electronics at an exponential rate. This means that, unfortunately, many consumers are simply throwing away all their old electronic waste where it is sent to landfills. Here are some things that you should know about the growing e-waste problem and how to properly get rid of your e-waste.

First thing you need to know is what constitutes e-waste. Electronic waste includes all discarded electronic or electric devices with circuitry, electric elements or those that are battery operated. E-waste includes computers, mobile phones, television sets, printers, stereos, gaming systems and larger items such as washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators. In 2012, the US had more than 9 million tons of e-waste and only 25% of it was recycled. The other 75% went to landfills in the US or were shipped to landfills in developing countries. Some e-waste is also sent to prisons, where it is processed in environments that are under-regulated.

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When e-waste is shipped off to landfills, the toxic elements inside these machines can leak in the ground and end up in our water supply. Cadmium, lead, beryllium, mercury and polyvinyl chloride are examples of chemicals that are found in e-waste which are toxic to humans. Instead of being thrown away, the metals inside electronics can often be extracted and used for a variety of different things such as art, jewelry, metal plates or even towards other electronics.

To help the situation, be sure always to dispose of your e-waste. The EPA and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition offers information about responsible recyclers in your area. Make sure the organization you use is certified because many fake e-waste recycling programs sell items to foreign countries and do not correctly recycle them. The good news is, there are a fair number of certified e-waste recycling in Los Angeles, so be sure to do your research and recycle responsibly.

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