Policy ForumSCIENCE AND REGULATION

The Electronics Revolution: From E-Wonderland to E-Wasteland

Science  30 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5953, pp. 670-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176929

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Summary

Since the mid-1990s, electronic waste (e-waste) has been recognized as the fastest-growing component of the solid-waste stream, as small consumer electronic products, such as cellular phones, have become ubiquitous in developed and developing countries (1). In the absence of adequate recycling policies, the small size, short useful life-span, and high costs of recycling these products mean they are routinely discarded without much concern for their adverse impacts on the environment and public health. These impacts occur throughout the product life cycle, from acquisition of raw materials (2) to manufacturing to disposal at the end of products' useful life.