Consumers have a nasty habit of throwing out their electronics as soon as newer, shinier models become available, and they rarely ever do so properly. Nearly 42 million tons of e-waste — everything from microwaves and electric shavers to washing machines, laptops, cellphones, TVs and computer monitors — entered the global garbage stream in 2014, according to a United Nations University report.
Like all trash, this stuff doesn’t just disappear. Instead, it stacks up in landfills. Unlike most trash, however, e-waste is often packed with valuable components — as well as toxic chemicals and materials that can cause real damage wherever they end up.