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Statistics on E-Waste We Should Care About

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

The technology boom of the 1990s saw tremendous progress around the world. But most especially in developed countries where the culture of consumption drove the demand to manufacture electronics at breakneck speeds.

30 years later, our lifestyles—and arguably, our entire lives—are now deeply embedded in technology. Things are changing so fast, with better and more sophisticated tech being released on a seemingly daily basis, that whatever was cutting edge one year is obsolete the next.

Now here comes the dilemma of the age of technology, the problem that most would rather turn a blind eye to:

What happens to all those electronics that get discarded?

Humans are a lot better at making things than we are at figuring out what to do with the stuff that we don’t want or need anymore.

E-Waste Should Be On Our Minds

Electronic waste, or e-waste for short, is a term used to describe discarded electronics such as cellphones, laptops, television sets, microwaves, calculators, and more. Your burned-out lightbulb is electronic waste, and so are the depleted batteries of your TV’s remote control.

And this kind of waste is causing unimaginable damage to our environment, not to mention to wildlife and to ourselves.

(Image Source: Statista)

Notice the consistent rise of electronic waste measured in million metric tons each year. Of that volume, only 20% is documented as recycled while the majority end up in landfill sites.

Other key statistics on e-waste:

  1. The 17.4% of e-waste recycled in 2019, is said to have prevented 13.6 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from being released into the environment, and ultimately decreased global warming by 0.3%(Tonerbuzz).

2. Also, it is estimated that, in 2019 alone, the United States generated about 69 tonnes of e-waste. In other words, each person produced approximately 46lbs(Earth911).

3. The energy conserved by recycling one million laptops is approximately the same as the energy used by over 3500 homes in the United States.

Hence, recycling e-waste can help conserve energy here by ensuring sustainability is achieved.

4. To produce one computer and a monitor it takes 1.5 tonnes of water, 48lbs of chemical, and 530lbs of fossil fuel(DoSomething). Additionally, in 2020, 275 million PC units were produced(Gartner).

That means an estimated 412.5 tonnes of water, 13,200 lbs of chemical, and 145,750lbs were used to manufacture PC units and monitors in 2020.

That also, means that for every computer and PC unit that is recycled that same amount of resource is preserved for use elsewhere.

So instead of discarding an old computer or device that you no longer want, help preserve the Earth’s resources and recycle it instead.

Let’s recycle e-waste and help build a better more sustainable world for ourselves and for the generations to come.

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