Old and obsolete electronic equipment, or “e-waste,” is the fastest-growing portion of our waste stream. Every new electronic product, whether it’s a computer, cell phone, television or iPod, is future e-waste. Americans discard an estimated 400 million pieces of e-waste each year.
These machines contain an array of toxic materials, including lead, mercury, and brominated flame-retardants. The U.S. EPA estimates that over 80% of our e-waste is trashed in American landfills and incinerators, where it can contaminate our air, water and land. In fact, several of the toxic chemicals found in e-waste are even showing up in mother's milk samples in American women!
Click here to learn more about the environmental and human health threats posed by e-waste.
Recycling is clearly very important. However, 50-80% of the e-waste documented as recycled is really being exported and dumped in developing nations by "sham recyclers", or sent to U.S. prison systems. In countries such as China and Nigeria, exported e-waste is dumped, burned, and processed under very crude conditions that result in toxic exposure to workers and communities. Export and prison labor hurt our economy because responsible, free-market recyclers face unfair competition that undercuts their business and costs jobs.
Click here to learn more about sham recyclers and exporting electronic waste.
The solution is to make producers take back and recycle their obsolete products. "Producer TakeBack" means there is a built-in incentive to make electronics that are more recyclable, last longer, and use less toxic material. In 2007, after five years of pressure from TCE and our supporters, Texas passed an Electronics TakeBack Law (HB 2714) that requires the producers provide consumers with convenient and responsible recycling for their obsolete computers. Now, all computer manufacturers selling products in Texas must offer free recycling! TCE is currently working with the National Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) to pressure local, state and federal lawmakers, as well as electronics manufacturers, to support expanding and strengthening Producer TakeBack programs in Texas.
Click here to take action!
Groups push for better electronic recycling efforts   (KXAN News Austin)
Staples brings responsible recycling across the U.S.   (Greenbiz.com)
Bill would require certification for electronics recycling   (San Antonio Business Journal)