e-Waste and e-Cycling

As the global production and consumption of electronic goods increases, implementing comprehensive solutions for managing the waste generated by the electronic industry is crucial. Electronic waste (e-waste) is defined as discarded electronic equipment including televisions, mobile phones, computers, mp3 players, office equipment, refrigerators, gaming systems, navigation devices, internal electronic components like motherboards and transistors, and so on.

In 2009 alone, 438 million new electronic devices were purchased. According to the EPA, that same year, approximately 2.37 million tons of electronics were ready for end-of-life management with another 5 million tons in storage, representing an increase of more than a 120% compared to 1999. This number is projected to rise further due to the advancement of technology, changes in media storage devices, and planned obsolescence.

Aside from adding to our world’s landfills, e-waste presents specific health risks compared to standard waste. Many of the components that make up personal electronics contain potentially hazardous materials and require complicated disposal methods. E-waste may contain any number of the following hazardous materials: mercury, sulphur, Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), cadmium, lead, beryillium oxide, and americium. Because these byproducts are particularly harmful to water sources and ecosystems, recycling presents a highly preferable method of managing e-waste that increases landfill diversion.

Electronic recycling (e-cycling) is the process of collecting, repairing, disassembling, and recycling the precious metals or materials that are used in electronic equipment. Environmental companies, such as Waste Management, offer environmentally and economically advantageous solutions for handling consumer e-waste. Waste Management’s eScrap Tracker ™ is a system that allows customers to ship their e-waste directly to processing centers. E-waste is also accepted for drop-off at many Waste Management facility locations. These innovative solutions are helping companies manage their e-waste while supporting sustainability objectives as well as preserving valuable natural resources.

For more information about our e-cycling programs, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at wmsustainabilityservices.com.

About the Author

Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc. is North America's leading provider of integrated environmental solutions. We partner with our customers and communities to manage and reduce waste from collection to disposal while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.

Our 45,000 employees are committed to Environmental Performance — our mission to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Serving over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers, Waste Management posted $12.52 billion of revenues in 2010.

Drawing on our resources and experience, we actively pursue projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, the communities we serve and the environment.

• Waste Management uses waste to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes every year. By 2020, we expect to double that output, creating enough energy to power more than 2 million homes.

• As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management managed more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities in 2009. By the year 2020, we expect to increase the amount of material we manage to more than 20 million tons per year.

• By the end of 2009, Waste Management had 119 landfill-gas-to-energy projects producing 540 megawatts of power, the equivalent of powering approximately 400,000 homes.

• At the end of 2009, we had more than 800 natural gas-powered trucks in our fleet, with plans to add 200 more in 2010. During the year, we also used technology to reduce the fuel burn of every truck in our fleet. When fully implemented, this is expected to save 9 million gallons of fuel per year.

• Our wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and five independent power production facilities in the U.S. that generate enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes.

• Through a joint venture with the Linde Group, we have built a plant that converts landfill gas into liquefied natural gas for use as fuel in our trucks. The facility is currently producing 13,000 gallons per day.

• At the end of 2009, we had a total of 73 WHC-certified sites. We also set a goal to have 25,000 acres dedicated solely to nature preservation by 2020, and we have nearly reached that goal: at year-end, we had 24,000 protected acres.

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