Why is E-Waste A Problem?
Many electronic devices include heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. If not handled properly, these can poison our environment and threaten the health of individuals and communities.
E-waste contains a combination of reusable raw materials as well as toxic materials. The raw materials have value and can be reused to manufacture new products. However, it can be extremely labor intensive and very expensive to extract the value of these materials from such devices. This is the reason millions of tons of e-waste have been exported to third world countries, where it is often handled by children in unsafe and toxic environments.
In recent years, organizations such as the “Basel Action network” or (BAN) have lifted this issue to the attention of World leaders. When it comes to handling and discarding e-waste, the problem still exists, but it is improving, as more people become aware of the impact e-waste has on the world. The methods in which e-waste is handled is fast becoming one of the largest concerns within the scope of social and environmental responsibilities of all nations.
Governments, cities, and towns are now starting to take a proactive approach to handling e-waste. For examples, the majority of consumes know that is illegal to dispose of televisions, computer monitors, and other cathode ray tube devices in most landfills. However, many of these same consumers have accumulated piles of e-waste in their homes and businesses because there has not been an effective and convenient method for disposal. In fact most people are unsure what to do with these products, since they can no longer be dumped in our landfills. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, “… some researchers estimate that nearly 75 percent of old electronics are in storage, in part because of the uncertainty of how to manage materials.”
In 2005 the State of California passed legislation designed protect our environment, our citizens, and the world community, from unsafe e-waste disposal practices. This legislation has created a network of approved e-waste collectors and recyclers, to handle our e-waste in a safe and responsible manner. ERS is proud member of this network. According to the CIWMB, this new program is working! It has been reported in 2005, 65.8 million pounds were claimed and in 2006, 97.4 million pounds were claimed (represents activities through third quarter) within the State of California.