Earlier in the year, I decided to learn and write about e-waste and made a commitment to tackle our own e-waste. Defining e-waste seems a good place to begin.
What is Waste?
I began my search for a definition of e-waste by looking up the word waste in my Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition. About halfway down the 4 inches occupied by the word waste, I came across the following definition, “left over, superfluous, refuse, or no longer of use.”
What is E-Waste?
Is that pile of old monitors, desktop computers, and keyboards in your garage e-waste? The answer is it depends.
Some organizations define e-waste as an electrical or electronic device, piece of equipment, or component that has been discarded. This could include items that will be reused, resold, refurbished, repaired, recycled, salvaged, or disposed of. Others designate e-waste as what is left over after removal of usable components and valuable materials. Some apply the term e-waste to electronic equipment that is obsolete, outdated, or at the end of its useful life.
The table below shows a list of possible e-waste items by category.
|Computer||Mobile Devices||Hard Copy Devices||Audio / Visual||Other|
|Desktop Computer||Cell Phone||Copier||CB Radio||Cables|
|Game Console||Digital Camera||Fax||CD / DVD Player||Calculator|
|Hard Drive||E-Reader||Multi-Function Device||Radio||Connectors|
|Hub||Handheld Game Player||Printer||Radio Scanner||Desktop Phone|
|Laptop||Pager||Stereo Equipment||Rechargeable Battery|
|Monitor||PDA||Tape Player||Small Appliance|
|Mouse||Portable GPS Device||Television||Wires|
|Peripherals||Smartphone||Two Way Radio|
U.S. EPA E-Waste Definition
The U.S. EPA defines e-waste as, “waste electrical and electronic equipment that is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to function (including all components, subassemblies and consumables which are part of the original equipment at the time of discarding),” and may include:
- Entertainment Electronics – TVs, DVD players, tuners
- Office, Information, and Communications Technology – computers, telephones, mobile phones
- Household Appliances – refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves
- Lighting Devices – desk lamps
- Power Tools – power drills
- Sport and Leisure Devices – fitness machines, remote control cars
- E-Waste Health Hazards and Environmental Impacts
- E-Waste – Laws and Regulations
- E-Waste – Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle
- Cal Recycle – What is E-Waste?
- Technopedia Dictionary – Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
- U.S. EPA – Waste Definitions
- Wikipedia – Electronic Waste