Electronic waste or E-waste generally refers to a range of electronics such as computers, entertainment electronics, and mobile phones that no longer have any use. Some countries define E-waste as “all appliances running on electricity that have no function anymore” Many of these electronics are broken, replaced or simply outdated and therefore are discarded by their original users.
The actual amount of E-waste is almost impossible to calculate. The United Nations Environmental Program, UNEP, estimates that nearly 50 million metric tons of electronics waste is annually disposed worldwide. UNEP estimates that each individual will generate 3.5 metric tons of electronic waste in his or her lifetime. In the new technological era, E-waste generated will coincide directly with the production of newer computer, cell phones, mp3s, televisions, and other electronics.
To get a clearer picture of the growing problem, one only has to examine the numbers on personal computers. Currently, the UNEP estimates that a billion personal computers with an average life span of only 2 years are in the world. In the United States alone, the National Safety Council predicted in 2003 that between 315 million and 680 million computers will become obsolete within the next few years. These obsolete computers alone will generate an estimated 3.78 billion pounds of waste.
“WEEE Basics: What is E-waste?”.E-waste guide.2007. 1 April 2007. http://www.e-waste.in/weee_basics/
Pucket, Jim and Ted Smith, ed. “Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asian”. BAN. 25 Feb. 2002. 1 April 2007. http://www.ban.org
“The Great E-waste Recycling Debate”.UNEP.2002. 1 April 2007. http://www.vitalgraphics.net/waste/html_file/36-37_ewaste.html