Electronic Waste Problem Becomes Serious

January 23, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. serious /ˈsɪəriəs/ (adj.) – very bad, harmful, or difficult to handle
Example: Climate change has resulted to serious natural calamities.

2. discarded /dɪˈskɑrdɪd/ (adj.) – thrown away
ExampleDiscarded candy wrappers make the city streets very dirty. 

3. project /prəˈdʒɛkt/ (v.) – to estimate something, especially in the future
Example: The company projects a 20% increase in sales of electronic gadgets at the end of this year.

4. landfill /ˈlændˌfɪl/ (n.) – an area of land where waste is collected and buried
Example: Every city has a landfill where all wastes are deposited.

5. developing nation /dɪˈvɛləpɪŋ ˈneɪʃən/ (n. phrase) – a nation whose income is lower than that of richer countries
Example: Most people in developing nations usually don’t enjoy a high quality of living.


Read the text below.
A recent study has proven that electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is becoming a very serious problem.

E-Waste is composed of all kinds of discarded electronic products,   including computers, monitors, refrigerators, TVs, e-toys, and mobile phones. StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem) Initiative, an organization supported by the UN, reported that electronic waste will globally increase by 33% in 2017.

According to the study, each person produced an average of 15 pounds of e-waste in 2012. The total amount of e-waste produced by the whole population in the planet that year was 48.9 million tons. In 2017, it is projected to be 65.4 million tons.

In 2012, China and the US turned out to be the world’s leading e-waste producers. China produced 7.3 million tons of e-waste from 11.1 million tons of electrical and electronic products.

On the other hand, the US sold 10 million tons of electronic products and generated 9.4 million tons of e-waste, 2.1 million tons higher than that of China. The report said an average American produced six times more e-waste than an average Chinese.

In 2007, only 13.6% out of three million tons of e-waste in the US was recycled. The rest were simply shipped to landfills or to developing nations.

To find ways to solve this problem, the study recommends tracking of used electronic products by using trade codes. These codes will identify whether products are repaired or thrown away. Tracking the flow of e-products over the years may be beneficial in identifying trends and in helping formulate waste solutions.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, should countries with large amount of e-waste be punished? Why or why not?
·         How do you think the US, China, and other countries reduce their e-waste problem?

Discussion B

·         How do you think wastes can affect the environment?
·         What can you do to help lessen the wastes generated in your community? Please discuss briefly.


January 23, 2014