For technology geeks, it's out with the old and in with the new. But every new gadget acquired means that old tech gets trashed. What happens to all those junked cellphones, computer monitors and ancient laptops? Here, some tales of technology that's gone to the graveyard.
Abandoned for the iPhone
While pay phones are not a common sight anymore, Superman should not despair. There are still 305,000 working pay phones in America.
India's electronic waste
The good news is, sales of electronics are booming in India. But that comes at an environmental cost: There is no plan for how to deal with the mountains of toxic waste. Discovery News reports that the workers who sort through piles of cell phones and computers are suffering from health problems.
Pay phone graveyard
Ever wondered where all the old pay phones went? Well, some, at least 100, ended up under the elevated training on West Side Highway at 135th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan. Freelance photographer Dave Bledsoe noted his find on his Flickr page of "at least 100 old, battered pay phones locked behind a chain link fence near the Park's Department building."
The world's unwanted laptops, computers, cellphones and other gadgets usually end up in Guiyu, eastern China. The United Nations estimates that 70 percent of the world’s electronic waste ends up here, where workers dismantle and mine the parts for precious metals.
Discarded cell phones
With the switch to smartphones, most people have one, or even maybe a few, old cell phones gathering dust in a drawer. The EPA estimates there was 2.37 million tons of e-waste in 2009 alone–and only 25 percent of that was collected for recycling. Everything else was headed for a landfill. And even though those old phones may be worth no more than a paperweight for most people, inside, there's gold. Literally.
Computers by the basketful
Many states now require that TVs, computer monitors and other electronics be disposed of properly through recycling. "Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year," the EPA points out.
Only about 25 percent of e-waste is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or, worse, is incinerated, releasing toxic chemicals into the air.