Chapter 4.6: Electronic Waste (e-waste)

While some parts of the world have been very successful in recycling materials and composting various types of food waste, one type of waste, in particular, has outstripped others in recent years. The exploding numbers of devices, from cell-phones to computers to big-screen televisions, have created a solid waste problem that is truly international in scope.  In our rush to get the latest electronic gadgets, too often we forget about “closing the loop” and considering what happens when we’re done with the latest version and ready to buy the newest product.

Start by reviewing the background material on e-waste.

Background Materials:

What is e-waste?

E-waste statistics:

For a figure showing the pathway of e-waste, go to


Textbook References and Links:
Exercise 3: Meyer and Katz article:

Simpleshow explains the carbon footprint.

Exercise 5:  Footprint of a cheeseburger:

Exercise 6: calculating your ecological footprint:

Exercise 7: Xu et al. article:

Exercise 9:  PBS Dateline story on E-waste in

CBS 60 Minutes story on E-waste in Guiyu:

Visit; click on the “Find a Recycler” link, and you can enter your zip code to locate the nearest facility.

Downloadable data and files:

Exercise 3:  Meyer 2016.pdf

Exercise 7: Xu 2015.pdf