I don’t know about you, but off the top of my head I know there are multiple old cell phones, an old laptop, an old computer, two printers, peripherals, remotes, and other electronics-related waste just sitting around in my house. I haven’t gotten rid of some of it b/c it still works, and the rest of it is just taking up space. What can I do with all of this stuff???
First off, donating it to a local charity that can refurbish or resell it is a great idea (like FreeGeek here in Portland). But, bottom line is that responsible disposal is key–making sure the items will not be dumped off in landfills or shipped to developing countries only to bog them down and pollute their country. Electronic waste is a huge pollutant, and a huge resource.
- 70% of the toxics in landfills are from electronic waste (e-waste); half of the lead in landfills is from e-waste.
- 232 million computers, monitors, and TVs were disposed of in 2007; only 18%/55 million were recycled 😦
- One CRT monitor or TV has 4-6 POUNDS of lead in it!
- 1 ton of e-waste has more gold than 17 tons of gold ore
- 1 million computers recycled saves 17,000 cars worth of emissions
- many e-waste items collected are not recycled, but in fact are shipped overseas and dumped on developing markets, where they are often burned, landfilled, or otherwise burdensome
E-waste is a huge pollutant if not treated properly, and the detrimental effect it has had on developing countries is downright shameful. You should check this out on the Basel Action Network to learn more.
Oregon E-Cycles is a program that just got underway this year to collect computers, TVs, and monitors for recycling. The rules of the program include requirements around data sanitizing, deconstruction, recordkeeping, health/safety/environmental management, insite operating practices, downstream due diligence, closure plans, financial assurance, and facility security. In other words, anyone who collects under the e-waste program cannot simply turn around and put it in the dumpster out back, or ship it off to Asia or Africa.
Again, the idea of preventing waste to begin with is a big helper here. Can you upgrade your computer instead of replacing it? Do you really need that new 60″ LCD TV when your current TV works just fine? If you do need to buy a new item, check out the retailer from whom you by for their eco friendly grades.