E-Waste In Landfills

Most E-Waste is Trashed, Not Recycled

Most e-waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators. In 2011, we generated 3,410,000 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 75% 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 3.41 tons of e-waste generated in the U.S. in 2011, 2.56 million tons went into landfills and incinerators (75.1%) and only 850,000 tons (24.9%) was recovered for recycling. However, a significant amount of that 24.9% was exported.

Note: This chart, showing statistics from 2011, uses the most recent data available, published in May 2013.  Those reports are posted annually on the EPA’s website here.

What states have laws that keep e-waste out of the trash?