Most of us couldn't imagine living without our computers, iPods, cell phones and other electronic gadgets. These electronics are updated almost constantly and keeping up with the latest technology is fun. But what happens to all the old electronics we no longer want?
According to the EPA, in 2009 Americans generated about 2.37 million tons of electronic waste, or e-waste. Sadly only a small percentage of this e-waste was recycled: about 25 percent of televisions, computers/peripherals, scanners and fax machines and about eight percent of cell phones.
The growing mound of garbage in landfills would be bad enough, but that's not the end of the problem with e-waste. Some of the materials contained in old electronics are dangerous. For example, the average CRT tube from a television or computer monitor contains between six to eight pounds of lead, which is released into the environment when the surrounding glass is smashed. Additionally, used electronics contain many useful recyclable materials such as:
- Precious metals and copper
Reputable e-cycling facilities insure that dangerous materials are safely processed and renewable materials are recycled. By preserving and reusing recyclable materials we can reduce:
- Energy consumption
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Exhaustion of limited resources
E-cycling doesn't have to be complicated or difficult, and you've got all kinds of valid options. One of these might be right for you:
Retailers That E-Cycle
Most major retailers have e-cycling programs. Here are just a few:
Costco and Staples: These retailers offer discounts for trade-ins on mp3 players, game consoles, computers and other electronics.
Best Buy: Stores recycle rechargeable batteries, ink-jet cartridges and cell phones free of charge. You can also recycle large appliances such as washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and televisions at no charge as long as you're buying a replacement item at Best Buy.
Office Depot: These stores sell recycling boxes: $5 for small, $10 for medium and $15 for large. If you buy a box and fill it with your unwanted electronics, they'll take it off your hands and recycle the contents.