E-Waste In Landfills
Most E-Waste is Trashed, Not Recycled
Most e-waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators. In 2012, we generated 3,420,000 tons of e-waste, according to the EPA. While many states are passing laws to prevent e-waste from going into their landfills and incinerators, it’s still legal to trash electronics in many states.
Currently about 70% of discarded electronics end up in the trash, even though the hazardous chemicals in them them could leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams. Burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin. Out of 3.42 tons of e-waste generated in the U.S. in 2012, 2.42 million tons went into landfills and incinerators (70%) and only 1 million tons (29.2%) was recovered for recycling. However, a significant amount of that 29% was exported.
Note: This chart, showing statistics from 2012, uses the most recent data available, published in Feb 2014. Those reports are posted annually on the EPA’s website here.
Consumer electronic products include electronic products used in residences and commercial establishments such as businesses and institutions. Consumer electronics include video and audio equipment and information products.