Day 204: E-nough of E-Waste

ewasteIt seems that the ubiquitous e-waste is going to come second on the list of “what’s in our garbage bins” (second only to our ever-growing plethora of broken dishes).

So far we have a laptop, a cell phone, a battery charger, and numerous wires and plug in type things crowding for bin space.

We all know that e-waste is technically recyclable, but did you know that only a small percentage of broken electronics actually gets salvaged?

British Columbia is phasing in a program to recycle pretty much anything with a cord or a battery.  The new definition os e-waste isn’t that it has to be “electronic”, just that it has to be “electric”.

According to an article in the Nanaimo Bulletin (where I snagged the photo from),  that means everything from tvs and computers to digital cameras, coffee grinders, and even power tools can go to one of the 93 depots around the province.  And the best part is that the manufacturers are the ones ultimately responsible for the recycling.

Apparently the depots are  already collecting over 1,000 tonnes a month.  It’s great that there is so much landfill diversion going on, and I’m truly happy that our dead e-waste might enjoy a reincarnation; however, 1,000 tonnes is a lot of stuff.

According to this article, “85 percent of e-waste goes in landfills”.  If I do some rough math and apply that to the recycling depot numbers, that means that over 5,000 tonnes of e-waste is going to the landfill each month.  In BC alone!

I’m wondering how much of that e-waste is actually still functioning, but considered obsolete?  or worse, just unattractive?  I’m wondering if people really try to re-home their e-waste before they recycle it?  I ‘m wondering what those people overseas think about when they are picking apart toxic chemicals from our discarded computers and xboxes?

Don’t get me wrong, recycling is a great, great thing, and it’s much better than sending crap to the landfill.  I just wish there was a more sustainable option like a compostable computer case or a cellphone that was actually made to last for 50 years instead of 2.

4 Comments

Filed under recycling

4 responses to “Day 204: E-nough of E-Waste

  1. Layla

    Found you over at Mrs A’s blog!!🙂

    Yeah, I totally agree!! It’s REDUCE & REUSE first… I have an ancient cellphone (inherited from my Sis), and have eyed newer ones… But thinking the totally usable Nokia might then uhm, land in a landfill or get incinerated…? No thanks!
    /There is a recycling/takeback programme here in Slovenia too.. but again I am doubtful how much is really recycled, and how much isn’t..)

    Hopefully the newer models will be more fully recyclable, with numbered parts and designed-to-be-easily-taken apart&recycled..
    (In Japan things are already designed that way, but also they have no scruples about incinerating certain remainders, and of course – not surprisngly- a growing cancer rate…)

    I’d love a lease-for-50-years/lifetime or something too..
    As for compostable computers.. okay if they were TRULY compostable, all parts.. But I’m kinda weary that it would still mean toxic chemicals in environment.. like the colors etc.

    So yeah.. first of all, things need to become muuch more transparent, regarding recycling etc. So when you buy you will know fully what percentage of this can be recycled, what not, and if better products exist..

  2. Jen CleanBin

    Layla, thanks for checking out the blog. You’re right, reusing is a challenge when it comes to electronics. Things either don’t last or look so outdated so quickly. When I think of the first cell phone we had, I laugh at the HUGE battery it used to take.

    Wow, Emilie, that compostable electronics is so cool! True, it’s only the case, but it is way better than nothing!

  3. Kara

    I know I’m quite late in replying to this post (I came across your blog recently and think your project was an awesome idea), but I’m wondering if you’ve ever looked at Edward Burtynsky’s photographs. He did a series in China, focusing on things like manufacturing and e-waste–here’s one of the pictures: http://www.treehugger.com/2008-01-23_145114-TreeHugger-burtynsky-recycling-9.jpg

    He also made Manufactured Landscapes, a beautiful but disturbing documentary.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog! I’ve been thinking a lot more about waste, plastic, etc. lately, and it’s cool to get inspiration and tips.

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