Many people have been or have started recycling, but there are still those who don’t know about electronic waste. Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, e-scrap, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, includes old electronics like cellular phones, televisions, and batteries, must be recycled properly, not just thrown away. From 1999 to 2005, the recycling rate of e-waste was about 15%, and 85% was disposed of in landfills, primarily.
The reason it’s important to recycle e-waste is because simply disposing of it is dangerous. New LCD screens have mercury, and other televisions and computer monitors contain up to eight pounds of lead. Batteries have health hazards in addition mercury and lead such as lithium and other toxics. If this waste is thrown away and sent to landfills, toxic metals can leak from the landfills into groundwater systems, or if they are incinerated, the toxic metals can be released into the atmosphere.
What you can do: take your used and non-working electronics to an electronic recycling plant. Many office supply stores accept used toner cartridges, or they can be mailed back to the manufacturer. Used batteries can also be dropped off at many home improvement stores. Don’t forget that working cell phones, DVDs, CDs, and other electronics can also be donated!
Before buying new electronics, check out Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics for the top manufacturers based on their policies on toxics, recycling, and climate change; also explore the Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices Electronics Reuse and Recycling Center for ideas about buying electronics, extending the lives of current electronics, and how to go about donating or selling your unwanted electronics. Finally, check to see if the recycling company you use is a member of E-Stewards.