Recycling electronic waste – additional information
Electronic waste, commonly called e-waste, has become more problematic in today’s society as the usage of various electronic devices has become commonplace throughout the world. As older generations of electronic equipment and obsolete technologies are gradually being replaced, the generation of e-waste has increased. It is expected that there will be almost 50 million metric tons of e-waste generated worldwide by 2018. In 2014, Asia generated the largest portion of electronic waste, totaling some 16 million metric tons, while Africa generated just under 2 million metric tons.
Fortunately, many countries have taken steps to improve the collection and recycling of electronic waste. In the United States, where the collection of e-waste has become more convenient, recycling rates have improved. In 2015, recycling rates for laptops and flat screen TVs reached an estimated 84 percent and 78 percent, respectively. Despite no longer being useful in terms of their original purpose, the components of electrical and electronic equipment can still have considerable monetary value. Used electronics management systems, such as reusing and refurbishing devices, provide a way to capture this value, but they must also manage potential risks to the environment and human health. The improper treatment of used devices can lead to contaminated land and water near recycling facilities. In general, hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium, and mercury have mostly been phased out of the production of new electronics, but older devices containing such materials are likely to remain in the waste stream for the near future.