That electronic waste is bad for the environment is nothing new. But while we are all aware of our own personal contributions (or lack thereof) to the problem, it’s not often that we get to see how our own personal habits fit into the bigger picture.
The following data was compiled by the Electronics Takeback Coalition and is representative of the United States. To read the report in full, click here.
Recycling Rates in the United States
In 2010 there were 71.7 million computers purchased in the US and 51.9 million computers disposed of, 40% of which were recycled—the highest percentage of all of the reported categories.
That same year, we, as a nation, bought a staggering 235.6 million cell phones but only got rid of 152 million. 135 million of those were thrown in the trash while only 17.4 million (11%) were recycled.
The recycling rate for televisions in 2010 was only slightly more promising—4.94 million (17%) of the 28.5 million disposed-of units were recycled.
These numbers indicate that while we continue to purchase new electronics at increasing rates, we do not match our consumption with responsible disposal. And while some of those unwanted products are thrown away, even fewer are actually recycled, and the rest are presumably just stashed away, unused and unwanted. The problem is that we’re losing valuable resources in the process.
Old Electronics are Far From Worthless
According to the EPA, the following can be recovered from 1 million recycled cell phones: 50 pounds of gold, 550 pounds of silver, 20 pounds of palladium, and 20,000 pounds of copper. Similarly, more gold can be recovered from 1 metric ton of computers than from 17 metric tons of gold ore. And the manufacturing of a new computer requires 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water.
The best way to mitigate the effects that our current consumption of electronics has on the environment is to take care to dispose of them responsibly. Rather than letting all of the resources used in the production of cell phones, computers, televisions, etc, go to waste, the devices can be sent to Cash for Electronic Scrap USA, where their precious metal content will be recovered and refined and the rest of their materials will be recycled responsibly. The process is quick and simple, and you even get paid cash in return. For more information about how to turn your unwanted electronic waste into cash, fill out our simple form today.