About this Project

Status: Completed
Operational Plan: 2011-2012

Electronic devices—TVs, smart phones, and computers—are integrated into modern life. They are more affordable than ever but they also become obsolete very rapidly. When this happens, most of them are discarded, stored, or shipped abroad, where recycling sometimes may not occur in environmentally sound ways. Electronic devices contain approximately 40 to 60 compounds and metals that, if managed inappropriately, can pose significant risks to our health and the environment due to leaching of metals, such as lead, mercury or cadmium, or exposure to potentially hazardous compounds, such as brominated flame retardants.

The environmentally sound management of e-waste is an issue of concern in North America, given the rapidly growing number of electronic devices being discarded each year that contain hazardous materials and substances. For this reason, Canada, Mexico and the United States have implemented a project to describe the transboundary movements, or flows, of used and end-of-life computers, monitors, and other electronic devices in North America. The project will quantify and characterize imports and exports of these used electronics, providing decision- makers with information they can use to develop and implement policies and strategies that will better address this problem on a North American scale.