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Impact of E-Waste
September 18, 2018
You might not think twice about upgrading to the latest model of your favorite smartphone, replacing your printer, or tossing your fried laptop in the garbage, but you’re actually making quite an impact, and not a good one. In fact, the constant consumption, upgrading, and replacement of electronic devices create a serious environmental issue in the form of e-waste.
Electronic waste (e-waste) refers to the refuse created by electronic devices, or any materials used in their manufacturing, that have been disposed of. In recent years, e-waste has become an ecological issue on a global scale.
Discover the various ways e-waste is impacting our global environment and why it is so critical that this trend of toxic pollution is immediately mitigated for the benefit of future generations.
And this is just the shortlist. There are many products and parts that fall into the category of e-waste that you might not expect such as batteries or cables and cords used to connect one device to another. And, unfortunately, many of the materials used to make our favorite electronics are actually toxic.
How e-waste is harmful
The disposal methods for e-waste are important because of the harmful substances electronics contain. E-waste contains many toxic components including:
Polybrominated flame retardants
When electronics are not disposed of correctly, it can lead to air pollution, water contamination, and other negative effects on the environment and public health. The far-reaching impact of e-waste might surprise you.
Did you know that when electronics are melted down they can release cancer-producing dioxins into the air? And when the toxins in these devices are left in landfills, they can make their way back to us through the foods we eat or the water we drink? As you can see, this isn’t a problem that can simply be ignored.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should stop using electronics. After all, they have had many positive impacts on society and the modern way of life. And there’s pretty much no way we could live without them. However, it is essential that everyone is aware of this issue and committed to correcting course in order to prevent serious repercussions that could affect generations to come.
The impact of e-waste in the U.S.
Whether they’ve become outdated or broken, countless electronic devices and their parts are regularly discarded. In fact, e-waste is the fastest-growing municipal waste stream in America.
The United States produces more e-waste than any other country in the world. In 2012 alone, the U.S. generated 3.4 million tons of e-waste. Only 29% of this was recycled and the problem shows no signs of stopping. Americans send approximately 50,000 dump trucks worth of electronics to recyclers each year.
E-waste currently represents 2% of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste (chemical waste that is capable of causing death or serious harm), which is why it is such a major health issue. Based on these numbers, it’s clear that the U.S. has a massive problem on their hands if there aren’t steps taken to intervene with the current state of e-waste.
However, it’s important to note that e-waste is a growing global issue.
The impact of e-waste on a global scale
The impact of e-waste across the globe is staggering. In 2016, 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste was generated - the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers. That’s a lot of trash.
Not only is throwing away electronics a hazard, but it’s also wasteful. If you didn’t know, much of the e-waste that’s being thoughtlessly thrown in the trash actually holds a lot of value; value that’s being wasted when it’s lost to a landfill.
In fact, most electronics contain gold, silver, copper, and other valuable materials. The materials found in this e-waste would have been worth $55 billion had they been recovered.
But what are these materials doing in our electronics in the first place? Precious metals are used in electronics because they are powerful conductors of electricity. Gold specifically is a popular component of modern electronics because it doesn’t corrode. There’s likely quite a bit of gold in the laptop or smartphone that you’re currently reading this on.
The global spread of e-waste isn’t going unnoticed and unchecked. As a provider of many of these electronics, HP® recognizes the impact of e-waste and has taken steps to help reduce e-waste on a global scale.
HP Planet Partners
So, what is HP® doing to help reduce e-waste? We’ve set a product recycling goal that can help reduce our footprint and that of our customers as well. HP set a goal to recycle 1.2 million metric tons of PC hardware and printer supplies by 2025. Currently, HP collects products for resale and recycling in 74 countries and territories worldwide.
How can you take advantage of HP’s e-waste recycling initiative? There are many ways to help reduce e-waste through HP’s programs:
Recycle: Use free HP recycling services to get rid of unwanted electronics
Trade-In: Put the value of your old electronics towards the purchase of new HP products
Return for Cash: HP will pay cash for the return of certain electronics
Donate: Donate your unwanted electronics to National Cristina Foundation in partnership with HP®
Destroy: HP® can safely destroy data drives and other electronics at the end of their life cycle.
Whether you’re upgrading your gaming laptop, replacing old speakers, or need to trade in a broken laptop for a newer model, HP® can help you get rid of your unwanted electronics in a responsible way. When you take one of these steps, you can enjoy the peace of mind that you are part of the solution. Plus, recycling your electronics with HP is safer than doing it on your own, which could expose you to toxic substances.
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