Pollution and toxic waste are problems for everybody today. With
the wide variety of available technology in the 21st century,
consumers, electronic designers, and environmental planners alike
need to take a closer look at what happens to all of our “tech
tools” at the end of their lives.
What is e-waste?
Electronic waste (or e-waste) is electronic equipment that is
obsolete, or no longer working and includes:
E-waste does NOT include toasters, blenders or other small
appliances, but these don’t belong in the landfills either. Look for
local community businesses or organizations that will accept these
for repair, or as donations. Small appliances containing significant
amounts of metal are often recycle (and sometimes worth a little
money). Call the Transfer Station for more information about
"hard-to-recycle" items such as small appliances.
Why is e-waste bad for the environment?
Electronic equipment contains hazardous materials such as
lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants.
Glass monitors and television screens contain about 4 lbs. of
Circuit boards contain heavy metals that leach out into the
environment and affect our public health and natural resources,
but when recycled, can help manufacture new electronics.
50 million computers and monitors and 130 million cell phones
are thrown away each year in the United States. That’s a lot of
The issue is such a concern to policy makers, environmental
planners and citizens that 20 States across the country have
adopted, or are considering regulations that ban the disposal of
What do you do with your e-waste?
Take it back. Many
companies have programs that will accept your end-of-life equipment.
If you have a Dell, HP, Apple, Gateway or Toshiba system, contact
their customer service line or website to find out more. Systems and
parts are reused or recycled to keep the products out of the waste
Donate it. Donate gently
used equipment to non-profits that accept equipment for their own
use or pass it on to their clients and customers. Before donating
equipment consider wiping personal information from your hard drive
or cell phone to ensure your privacy. Visit the
Dell website for useful summaries about personal data security
and more information about wiping software (some of which is
available at no cost, such as "DBAN").
Recycle it. Contact a
local electronics recycler. They will take your end-of-life
items and dismantle them, saving valuable materials and resources,
and protecting our environment from dangerous toxins. Because of the
complex process of recycling e-waste, especially the lead in glass
screens, please expect to pay $5-$15 to recycle monitors, computers
and televisions. Other e-waste recycling is often free.