Unsafe handling of used electronics (e-waste) can result in harm to human health and the environment – particularly in developing countries, where used electronics are often shipped (from developed countries) despite the inability or lack of capacity to handle these materials appropriately. Open-air burning and acid baths used to recover valuable materials from electronic components expose workers to harmful substances and release toxic materials into the environment, including high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, and neurological damage.
EPA estimates that, in 2009, US consumers and businesses discarded televisions, computers, cell phones and hard copy peripherals (including printers, scanners, faxes) totaling 2.37 million tons. Approximately 25 percent of these electronics were collected for recycling, with the remainder disposed of primarily in landfills, where materials such as precious metals cannot be recovered.
Maryland State Finance and Procurement Article §14-415 requires state agencies awarding contracts for services to recycle electronic products to award the contract to a recycler that is R2 or e-Stewards certified.
Electronic Product Disposal Specification
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