Why recycle electronics? - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Why recycle electronics?

Electronics are complex devices which are made of a wide variety of material constituents. Some of the constituents, such as lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury, could pose risks to human health or the environment if mismanaged at their end-of-life.

EPA is very concerned about ensuring the proper management of used electronics and has undertaken important work to increase the collection and responsible recycling of used electronics.

As for managing electronics disposed in the US in landfills, we believe that disposal of electronics in properly managed municipal solid waste landfills does not threaten human health and the environment.

The results of landfill leachate studies, suggest that currently allowed disposal of electronics — including those containing heavy metals — in modern municipal solid waste landfills are protective of human health and the environment.

However, we strongly support keeping used electronics out of landfills, to recover materials and reduce the environmental impacts and energy demands from mining and manufacturing.

Electronics are made from valuable resources, such as precious metals, copper, and engineered plastics, all of which require considerable energy to process and manufacture. Recycling electronics recovers valuable materials and as a result, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution, save energy, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth.

For example:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 US homes in a year.
  • One metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the concentrations of gold ore mined in the US and 30-40 times the concentration of copper ore mined in the US.
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