Letter to the Editor: May 18, 2023

E-waste is world’s fastest growing waste stream

To the Editor:

I would like to raise awareness about one of the largest waste problems in the world, electronic waste (e-waste).

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. The U.S. produces 13.84 billion pounds of e-waste every year. Only 12.5 percent is properly recycled in the U.S. Of the remainder, about 40 percent is exported to developing countries across Africa and Asia. Most of it goes to India and China where waste laws are the least restrictive and labor costs are extremely low. Underpaid workers are subject to awful working conditions resulting in severe and permanent health effects from toxic chemicals released during the extraction of valuable materials in open air acid baths or burnings.

E-waste also has major negative effects on the environment. In the U.S. it makes up just 2 percent of waste in landfills but accounts for over 70 percent of toxic waste. This high toxicity found in electronics causes serious pollution and chemical leaching into the environment, affecting both wildlife and people that rely on it. This problem is amplified in countries where e-waste is exported to because of the unsafe and uncontained methods of “recycling” done there.

So, what can you do? The first thing is to reduce the amount of e-waste you produce. This can be done by not needlessly upgrading to the most up-to-date hardware as soon as it is released and instead focus on making your electronics last. Another thing you can do is not throw away your old electronics in the trash (even though it’s illegal in Vermont). Instead bring your e-waste to a recycling facility that uses proper recycling methods. Some organizations close to Charlotte include: Chittenden Solid Waste District with collection centers across Chittenden County, Staples, Best Buy and Good Point Recycling in Middlebury.

Griffin Hengelsberg , Charlotte