What you need to know about recycling e-waste?
We live in an age of almost constant technological advance. It seems that the latest model too soon becomes yesterday’s model. Popular electronics continue to beckon our attention (and wallets). This means that millions of tons of obsolete or broken electronics are destined for recycling or disposal. These disposed electronics are known as "e-waste" or "e-scrap."
In 2010, consumer electronics – including TVs, computers, peripherals, audio equipment, and phones – totaled nearly 3.32 million tons of municipal solid waste, or about 1.3 percent of the overall municipal solid waste stream. All These products contain hazardous constituents such as lead and mercury. They can be safely disposed in a modern landfill. However, recycling is a better option.
A Second Life - Recycling Electronics
Recycled electronics can be a valuable source of secondary raw materials. A circuit board, for example, contains copper, gold, silver, platinum and palladium, as well as lead. In fact, 650,000 tons, or 19.6 percent of electronic products, were recycled in 2010. EPA estimated this included:
- 40% of used computers
- 33% of computer displays
- 33% of hard-copy devices
- 17% of used television sets
- 11% of mobile devices
- 10% of keyboards and mice
Twenty-six states have laws calling for the recycling of various types of used electronics. These laws vary widely in terms of which products are covered and where they should be recycled. Solid waste and recycling companies are working with state and federal government agencies and electronics manufacturers and retailers to provide more opportunities for reuse and recycling of this equipment. Many solid waste and recycling companies also schedule periodic curb-side pick up or local drop-off events for electronic equipment. Ask your local waste collector if there are similar programs in your area. Here are some websites that may provide more information about local collection or drop-off sites for e-waste: