The 2-page handout

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The United Nations has issued a stark warning to consumers worldwide. The volume of electronics we are throwing away is creating an "environmental catastrophe". We are disposing of record amounts of "e-waste". The UN defines electronics as anything with a plug or a battery, and often contains toxic chemicals and substances, such as lead and mercury. E-waste includes discarded cellphones, refrigerators and e-cigarettes. The UN Global E-waste Monitor has reported that in 2022, the world generated a mind-blowing 62 million tons of e-waste. CNN said this waste could, "fill more than 1.5 million 40-ton trucks which, if placed bumper-to-bumper, could…wrap around the Equator".

Most e-waste comes from developed countries. A lot of it is sent to poorer countries for recycling. However, these countries lack the technology and resources to dispose of it in a way that minimizes environmental damage. The sheer volume of waste is creating a plethora of health problems. Dumped electronics are poisoning rivers and seas. A disturbing 58 tons of mercury entered the environment last year. Some of this enters the food chain. The UN blamed manufacturers for showing "a lack of duty of care" by failing to accept responsibility for what happens to their products. It also blamed consumers, saying, "it's just a few clicks" to buy electronics, but "it's far more difficult to dispose of them".



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