Electronic waste is the
fastest growing
waste stream
in the world

EPA, 2008

The dumping of e-waste represents not only an environmental disaster, but also the loss of millions of tons of valuable resources. We currently spend upwards of $12Bn per year searching for virgin ore deposits, while the most concentrated sources of coveted metals is literally put to waste. For example, every 20 minutes the US discards one ton of cell phones containing over 70 times the amount of gold and silver found in virgin ore. Annually, the amount of copper contained in e-waste is equivalent to a third of global mine production.

E-waste is also a large and untapped source of rare earths and other critical metals used in alternative energy technologies such as wind turbines, hybrid vehicles and fuel cells. According to one recent article, “the use of rare earths in electronic gadgets has risen so much that their concentration in computers is actually higher than that in mines.” At present, however, less than 1% of rare earths contained in discarded products are recovered by recycling.