Toxic trash

International E-Waste Day 2021: 6 shocking facts raise the alarm on a growing crisis

The weight of the world’s electronic junk is heavier than the Great Wall of China.

Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski via Giphy

Shutterstock

Mark your calendar: October 14 is International E-Waste Day.

What is e-waste?

Any kind of discarded electronic devices, such as cell phones, computers, keyboards, game consoles, TVs, and household appliances, qualify as e-waste.

Shutterstock

Michael Shillingburg via Giphy

In the U.S. alone, people toss at least 151 million phones in the trash every year — a practice that can cause hazardous and toxic chemicals to seep into the environment.

Shutterstock

A European nonprofit called the WEEE Forum started E-Waste day in 2018.

Its purpose is to raise awareness of the colossal amount of devices people trash every year, and to provide resources for proper ways to dispose of old electronics.

Shutterstock

This growing crisis poses a threat to our environmental wellbeing — toxic waste can contaminate water and soil, cause illness, and contribute to carbon emissions.

Here are 6 shocking e-waste facts that you probably didn’t know:

Shutterstock

6. In Europe, 11 of 72 electronic items in every household are broken or unused.

jimgolden.tumblr.com via Giphy

Shutterstock

And in France alone, there are an estimated 54 to 113 million mobile phones sitting in drawers and storage spaces, unused.

5. An estimated 416,000 mobile phones are thrown away every day in the U.S.

sheepfilms via Giphy

Shutterstock

Those discarded electronics make up 40% of heavy metals in landfills today.

4. The colossal amount of E-Waste worldwide is heavier than the Great Wall of China.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The total weight of all e-waste is 63.3 million tons. The Great Wall weighs in at 58 million tons.

3. Every year, global e-waste increases by 3 to 4 percent.

Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski via Giphy

Shutterstock

That growth is attributed to shorter lifecycles for new electronic devices, and limited options for people to repair their devices on their own.

2. Every 1.1 tons of E-Waste discarded leads to 2.2 tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

NASA via Giphy

Kochstrasse via Giphy

By recycling or repairing your electronics, you can extend their life cycle and reduce the amount of impact you have on the environment.

1. Only 17.4 percent of all e-waste worldwide was properly recycled in 2019.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

In the U.S., E-Waste recycling programs vary state-to-state.

This EPA page can get you started with links to your region’s hazardous waste disposal services.