* Impacts of E-Waste Exports
* Concerns About Domestic E-Waste Disposal
* E-Waste Management Requirements
* Relevant Waste Disposal Requirements
* Factors Influencing E-Waste Exporting
* Costly and Complex Domestic Recycling
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors (flat screen and cathode ray tubes), laptops, printers, scanners, and associated wiring. Rapid technology changes have led to increasingly large e-waste surpluses. Electronic devices, ...view middle of the document...
In the coming years, it is likely that more states will enact similar laws. New state requirements, mixed with increased consumer awareness regarding potential problems with landfilling e-waste, have led to an increase in recycling. With that increase have come new questions about e-waste EOL management. Instead of questions only about the potential impacts associated with e-waste disposal, questions have arisen regarding the potential danger associated with e-waste recycling.
Because e-waste recycling is largely unregulated, virtually no data are available to track its fate. Accurate data regarding how much is generated, how it is managed, and where it is processed (either domestically or abroad) are largely unavailable. What is known is that e-waste recycling may involve costly, complex processes and that there is an insufficient, though growing, national recycling infrastructure to enable the United States to fully manage its own e-waste. It also is known that markets for e-waste (either for reuse or recycling for scrap) are largely overseas. As aresult, the majority of e-waste collected for recycling appears to be exported for processing.Although it is difficult to know exactly how much e-waste collected for recycling is exported, it appears that India or developing countries in Asia or Africa are most likely to receive it. Thosecountries are more likely to have electronics manufacturing plants that can cheaply repair orrefurbish e-waste for reuse. Also, developing countries are more likely to value e-waste morehighly than developed countries for its potential to recycle for scrap.
Impacts of E-Waste Exports
It is difficult to determine how much e-waste is exported from the United States to developing countries. It is further difficult to determine how much of the waste that is exported is sent to facilities that will manage it safely as opposed to those that use disassembly and disposal methods that will expose workers to toxic chemicals with little, if any, protection. It is also difficult to determine how much e-waste may be sent to countries that have a limited regulatory framework to protect the local environment—potentially exposing the surrounding communities to resulting contamination.
What is becoming easier to document is the impact that e-waste exports are having on less developed nations. With increased exports have come increased media attention on the improper handling of e-waste in those areas and its resulting impacts.7 Various reports have graphically documented health and safety threats to workers and environmental contamination from e-waste recovery practices in developing countries. It is difficult to document all e-waste recycling hubs, but popular destinations for e-waste exported from the United States (and other developed countries) are waste processing operations in Guiyu in the Shantou region of China, Delhi and Bangalore in India, and the Agbogbloshie site near Accra, Ghana.
Multiple studies have...