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As we replace old electronic products with newer models, the stockpile of used and obsolete products grows. The National Safety Council projects that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete in the next five years and mobile phones are discarded at a rate of 130 million per year.
Hazardous materials, such as lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium, can be found in a variety of electronics. A television or CRT monitor contains four pounds of lead on average. Circuit boards, batteries, and color cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are just some of the common electronic parts that can be released into the environment through incinerator ash or landfill leachate.
EPA reported that in 1998, over 112 million pounds of materials were recovered from electronics, including steel, glass, and plastic, as well as precious metals. Reusing and recycling the raw materials from end-of-life electronics conserves natural resources and avoids the air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing new products.