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Electronics, E-Waste and E-Waste recycling - affecting our carbon footprint?

We don't want to use the word Climate Action because we don't want you to stop readin

g... THOUGH the US produces 22 billion pounds of electronics annually.  According to the Department of Energy, the computer/electronics sector in the US, using 2010 data, the sector consumes roughly 500 Trillion BTU of energy, or roughly the equivalent of 150 billion kwh of electricity.  That annual energy output has a carbon footprint of about 104 million metric tons, or a volume of 2 trillion cubic feet of atmospheric CO2 produced that would not otherwise be there.  That is just for the manufacturing/assembly process.

The mining, milling, processing, and transportation of the rare earth and precious metals that go into our electronics is quite huge as well.

  Looking at copper as an example there is approximately 100 million BTU, or 29,300 kwh of energy expended to mine 1 ton of copper.  The US produces approximately 2 million metric tons of copper annually, with 23% of that going to the electronics industry.

Running the numbers, that means that there is 13.4 billion kwh of energy embodied in the copper we put into electroincs in the US annually.  So the copper in US electronics production gives us another 179 billion cubic feet of atmospheric CO2 pumped out annually.

To get the full picture you have to run the numbers on aluminum, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, etc...

But how does that implicate E-Waste in our collective carbon footprint?


Well here you go:

The average electronic device in the US has a life span of 5 years.  According to the Electronics Takeback Coalition, only 19% of all that electronic waste is recycled.The rest is simply trashed.  That is the equivalent of every American household walking out to their back yard with a shovel and burying three electronic devices every year.

Clearly, the waste that represents is massive and overall environmental implications are horrendous.  Looking at it through the lens of climate change, however, we can point to the loss of all of that embodied energy.   Mining, milling, and manufacturing from raw material is vastly more energy intensive than harvesting recycled material.  Aluminum, for example, can be recycled and reused for only 5% of the energy consumption required for raw material use. THIS IS WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO KEEP E-WASTE OUT OF LANDFILLS AND RECYCLE ALL E-WASTE!


The E-waste impact, then is the tremendous waste of resources due to our failing to simply recycle the products.  By failing to conserve those resources, we force the demand for consumption of more raw materials and the energy usage that represents.  That impact is easily in the billions, or trillions, of cubic feet of additional greenhouse gas being produced annually.  And that volume of man-made atmosphere will stay there for a century or more, with it's impacts not being fully felt for decades to come.


THIS IS HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT! KEEP E-WASTE OUT OF KENTUCKY LANDFILLS AND RECYCLE ALL E-WASTE!

THERE IS A NEED FOR E-WASTE REGULATIONS AND LEGISLATION IN OUR STATE. A RECOMMENDATION TO KEEP E-WASTE OUT OF LANDFILLS IS NOT ENOUGH...


(information used comes from write-up by Ted Redond, Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur, Architect) Thanks, Ted, for your info!



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