Imagine a convoy of 40-ton trucks filled with end-of-life refrigerators, televisions, computers, electronic games and toys that end-to-end wraps three-quarters of the way around the Earth's equator. That is the volume of e-waste a United Nations report is forecasting will be recycled by 2017.
The report that was developed in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. National Center for Electronics Recycling projects an increase in e-waste of 33 percent by 2017.
Last year 48.9 million metric tons of e-waste was generated globally. The report said by 2017 that number will rise to 65.4 million tons.
The study found mobile phones to represent the biggest single component of e-waste, with an estimated 120 million cellphones having been disposed of in 2010.
In Madison approximately 250 million tons of e-waste is collected every year.
"Lots of televisions, computers, printers and we get some cellphones, just about anything electronic," said George Dreckmann, recycling coordinator for the city of Madison.
Dreckmann said as the amount of e-waste increases so does their concern about having the electronic devices properly handled and recycled.
"The more waste there is the more likely we are to see TVs showing up in parks, TVs being dropped on somebody else's property and we have to pick it up," Dreckmann said.
E-waste that is not disposed of properly and recycled poses a risk to the environment because of the toxic materials that are used to make the electronics.
"It is the kind of stuff we want to keep out of the landfill, not only because of the volume of it but there are a lot of toxic elements to this waste," Dreckmann said.
For more information about the e-waste recycling program offered by the City of Madison visit their website.
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