Trade Resources Market View The Post-Christmas Season Is an E-Waste High Water Mark in The United States

The Post-Christmas Season Is an E-Waste High Water Mark in The United States

The post-Christmas season is an e-waste high water mark in the United States. New computers, phone docks, wireless speakers, and watches under the Christmas tree crowd out the old(er) ones. What isn't donated or recycled usually makes its way to the trash. And a recent study by the United Nations University and MIT has details on just how high our e-trash hoard is getting.

In the US, about 10 million tons of new electronics entered the market in 2012. And Americans dispose of nearly as many old electronics each year as we buy new ones. In fact, the United States topped the chart in terms of e-waste generated per resident, according to the study—65.5 pounds of e-waste per person, each year. That's like throwing a Golden Retriever-sized hunk of electronics right in the trash.

Unfortunately, the surgeA transient variation in the current and/or potential at a point in the circuit. shows no sign of slowing, especially as electronic generations decrease. The report indicated that even products like televisions, which families used to keep for decades before disposal, are suffering from shortened lifecycles.

The combined effect of new electronics flooding the market and faster upgrade cycles: more e-waste. Based on current trends, the study predicts that global e-waste rates will jump by a third in the next four years: an annual volume of 65.4 million tons—the weight equivalent of 200 Empire State Buildings or (if your interest runs more toward ancient history) 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.

It's not all bad, though. All those recycling awareness campaigns seem to be working. Of the 258.2 million used computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones that the US was ready to discard in 2010, two-thirds of the individual units were collected for reuse or recycling.

Interestingly, MIT's collection rate estimates are much higher than the EPA's, which currently puts collection rates at just 25% (huge discrepancy is a result of different calculation methods and different data pools). But even if collection rates are increasing, they aren't nearly high enough. A collection rate of 66% still yields 170 million computers, monitors, TVs and phones left to rot in landfills across the United States—not to mention other forms of e-waste.

And as more and more things—fridges, toys, household appliances, and accessories, for example—become computerized, less obvious forms of e-waste will be hitting the market. It's easy to make the connection between a giant CRT monitor and e-waste; it's less easy to make that connection with singing birthday cards. Nobody thinks twice about trashing them, but they're e-waste.

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