What do you do with your old electronics when you buy a new TV or a new computer monitor? Do you throw them away or do you taking them to a recycling center?
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, e-waste is the fastest growing segment of the nation’s garbage. This is easy to see when on average each household has about 24 electronic gadgets. If you can believe it, about 2 million tons of unwanted electronic items accumulate every year nationwide, but less than 20% is recycled! The rest ends up in landfills. Why is this bad? The toxic materials (lead, mercury, and beryllium) in these gadgets can leak and pose human and environmental problems.
To combat this, over 20 states nationwide have laws regulating e-waste. Starting next year in Illinois, residents will be fined $100 if caught throwing away electronics in the garbage. Minnesota’s law requires manufacturers to recycle 80% by weight of their products sold in the state.
There are several recyclers that have federal certification for responsible recycling. With these recyclers, you don’t have to worry about the e-waste being shipped to third world countries and being disassembled with no protection for the workers. The responsible recyclers collect the e-waste up. They then weight, test, sort and refurbish the old electronics that could be donated or remarketed. If reusable, they are fixed with recovered parts and sold to local electronics wholesalers. If they item cannot be reused, they dismantle it. The components are then sorted for recovery of metals like gold, platinum, silver, aluminum, and steel. Computer hard drives are removed, erased, shredded, and crushed. Many recycled gadgets are used to make new electronics.
What do you do with your old electronics? Do you throw them in the trash or recycle them?