How $55 billion gets tossed annually when we throw away electronics into the Abyss

Who doesn’t love a new tech gadget? And with that gadget comes a new cord, a new charger, new earbuds, maybe even a new case and other new accessories. So, what happens to the old stuff? It’s called e-waste and it’s a becoming a major global issue.

The E-Waste Abyss

Every year, roughly $55 billion worth of valuable materials are thrown to the trash with our old electronics. In the U.S. alone, we produce 9.4 million tons of old electronics annually, yet only 12.5% of that gets recycled creating a massive growing problem with electronic waste.

What is e-waste?

E-waste is the global accumulation of discarded electrical and electronic devices that include our computers, TV’s, tablets and mobile phones.

E-waste ranges from devices that are broken and unusable to those that are simply unwanted and obsolete. Any devices that could be destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling or disposal is considered e-waste.

The growing problem

Roughly 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste from Americans is shipped to developing countries annually. In that waste, at least $55 billion worth of valuable materials like gold, silver, copper and palladium could be recovered from old electronics each year if e-waste recycling was as efficient as automotive recycling.

Where is it going?

Some e-waste is sent to certified recycling centers in the U.S. or repurposed and sent to Latin America and Asia, but the vast majority of the e-waste ends up in a hazardous scrapyards and landfills around the world.

The folks at Ryerson have created a visual breakdown of recyclable materials inside of electronics that can be seen below. The goal was to create a resource that could help to educate the people about e-waste and try to put a stop to the river of device debris.

How $55 billion gets tossed annually when we throw away electronics

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