Electronic waste is created when an electronic product is discarded. The rapid innovation of the technology we use everyday means the amount of e-waste is ever increasing. Find out Why it takes 75 elements to make your cell phone.
More often than not, used electronics simply take up space. E-waste that is thrown away ends up in landfills—both at home and in the developing world—where toxic metals leach into the environment affecting the air, water and soil. Electronics contain heavy metals such as, lead, mercury and arsenic which are toxic to life.
Electronics contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals, that pollute the land, air and water. Responsible recycling can reduce the amount of these pollutants being put into the environment.
In addition to reducing pollution, recycling electronic waste also helps to preserve land from destruction. All the elements that go into electronics, must be extracted from Earth. This requires the disruption or destruction of land and is a chief component of deforestation. According to the World Wildlife Fund 18.7 million acres of forest are lost annually.
Conflict resources are resources that are extracted in a conflict zone and used to finance the fighting. Miners in these areas are often working in dangerous conditions and are paid poorly. The article Toward Electronics Free of Conflict Minerals summarizes the issues facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC is an especially important area because it supplies many of the components of Western electronic devices. Recycling helps to reduce the need for conflict minerals and therefore, cutting off the money supply for militias and other groups committing human rights abuses.