As we become greater consumer of electronics, we are left with a pressing issue of what to do with all our old or outdated TVs, laptops, cell phones, smartphones, or MP3 players? Even worse, most communities have no other recourse than to throw out old electronics which means they either end up in landfills or shipped abroad to litter and pollute other countries.
Electronic waste or E-waste is the fastest growing part of the solid waste stream with only about 12 percent of the waste recycled nationwide. Some of the materials in electronics pose a serious problem. Lead, mercury, cadmium, and other hazardous materials are commonplace ingredients. If not handled properly, these toxic substances can be released upon disposal and can be hazardous to both human health and the environment. Not to mention metals and other components can be recovered from used electronics which protect our environment from unnecessary mining.
E-Waste that does not fill up our landfills is packed in trailers and shipped “out of sight, out of mind” to developing countries for alleged recycling as highlighted in a recent National Geographic article, and the compelling short video, “Dumping on the Poor“. Many of the men, women, and children living in poverty are paid to disassemble these shipped electronics, exposing themselves to the hazardous materials. To make matters worse, many of these materials end up in the water supply, poisoning the local drinking water.
How can I recycle my E-waste?
Without federal or state legislation, recycling options are few and far between. Below are a few recycling options:
• Drop off your e-waste at a local collection event or site.
• Send your e-waste back to the manufacturer.
• Bring in your e-waste to a local retailer.
• Contact your legislator to support E-Waste recycling in Illinois.
You can go to the EPA to find out more e-waste recycling options in your state. National recycling groups offer resources to help find local e-waste...