Well, like organic waste, these e-waste will be sent to landfills, i.e. local electronic graveyards, if your town or municipal happens to have one. Unfortunately, e-waste site is fairly rare due to its toxic nature, and hence most of them, if not all, will be exported to China.
Guiyu is a small town made up of several villages in the province of Guangdong, China. The town started receiving e-waste in 1995, primarily from the United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. Today the area spans 52 square kilometers with approximately 150,000 workers processing some of the most toxic waste known to human--it is dubbed the largest e-waste site on Earth.
Workers burn and boil circuit boards to remove chips and solders. Acidic solution which they use to extract gold (I blogged about this solution, it's called the Aqua Regia) is then poured directly into the river. The soil is filled with lead, tin, and other heavy metals, rendering it unsuitable for agricultural purposes. The toxic material seeps into underground water and thus polluting it. In fact, the underground water is so polluted drinking water has to be trucked in from other town. According to Basel Action Network (BAN), an NGO that combats the export of toxic waste, the lead level in the river sediment in Guiyu is two times higher than European safety level.
As a result of prolonged exposure to toxic gas and heavy metal;
1) 88% of workers suffer from neurological, respiratory or digestive abnormalities or skin diseases.
2) Women in Guiyu are six times more at risk of miscarriage.
3) Lead in the blood of Guiyu's children is 54% higher on average than that of children in the nearby town of Chendian.
Of course, Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs are fighting against all these. After years of lobbying for support, The NGOs managed to compel local governments to impose bans on burning electronics and soaking them in sulfuric acid. And the air quality has now returned to level II after over 800 coal-burning furnaces were upended.
One thing's for sure: it's going to be ugly.