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11 Facts About E-Waste

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Welcome to DoSomething.org, a global movement of millions of young people making positive change, online and off! The 11 facts you want are below, and the sources for the facts are at the very bottom of the page. After you learn something, Do Something! Find out how to take action here.

  1. In 2009, discarded TVs, computers, peripherals (including printers, scanners, fax machines) mice, keyboards, and cell phones totaled about 2.37 million short tons.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - eCycling." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  2. E-waste represents 2% of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.^[Slade, Giles. "iWaste." Mother Jones, 2007. Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  3. 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.^[United Nations. "Waste Management." Web Accessed April 11, 2105.]
  4. Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.^[Voakes, Greg. "The Lesser-Known Facts About E-Waste Recycling." Business Insider, 2012. Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  5. A large number of what is labeled as "e-waste" is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - eCycling." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  6. Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Fact Sheet: MANAGEMENT OF ELECTRONIC WASTE IN THE UNITED STATES." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  7. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - eCycling." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  8. Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - eCycling."Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  9. E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.^[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wastes - Resource Conservation - Common Wastes & Materials - eCycling." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  10. It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.^[Electronics TakeBack Coalition, A Project of the Tides Center. "Facts and Figures on E-Waste and Recycling." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
  11. Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to: Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes, LCD desktop monitors, LCD televisions, Plasma televisions, Portable DVD players with LCD screens.^[Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. "Waste Computers, Monitors, and Electronics." Web Accessed April 11, 2015.]
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