Nov 1 - Electronic Upgrades Create Environmental Problems

Share With new gadgets released every day, and the holiday season coming up, consumers worldwide are throwing out many perfectly functional old phones.

According to a US EPA study, Electronics Waste Management in the United States Through 2009 (.pdf), sales of mobile devices have seen the most dramatic increase. While cell phones can last for many years, many people upgrade their phones every 18 months. Apple alone sold 4 million units of the new iPhone 4S on its release weekend, soundly beating the previous iPhone launch record of 1.7 million.

Americans bought more than 32 million televisions, 132 million computers and computer accessories, and 216 million mobile phones in 2009, according to US EPA. All the old devices have to go somewhere - sometimes getting sold online or gathering dust in the garage, but many of them end up getting tossed in the landfill or shipped overseas.

California's e-waste law currently includes everything with a video screen of 4 inches or larger, such as televisions and computer monitors. Under this law, about 193 million pounds of covered e-waste were recycled last year. We also have a cell phone and battery recycling law. However, devices not covered under the current laws, such as computer towers, are often times are shipped overseas for dismantling. Californians Against Waste continues to work on increasing the number of non-covered e-waste (devices without a screen) recycled in California with AB 960 by Assembly Member Lowenthal. The measure, which would require recyclers to conform their export practices as a condition of receiving existing recycling payments under California’s e-waste law, has been held in Senate Appropriations committee, and is now a 2-year bill.

Read an article.

What you can do:

  • Postpone that upgrade until you really need it
  • Sell your devices or donate to charity
  • Find out where to recycle your e-waste

Learn more about CAW’s efforts to support e-waste recycling. Please support our work on e-waste and make a tax-deductible donation today.