E-Waste Recycling Made Easy

by Brian Fitzgerald for "Green My Apple" Campaign with Greenpeace

Although the National Recyling Day has passed, Green Building Elements thinks everyday should be a recyling day. Electronic waste, otherwise known as E-waste, is one of the largest cause of waste stream by humans due to advances in technology in which electronic appliances becomes obsolete in a short amount of time. Another significant factor is our need to have the “latest gadget” so even if the electronic isn’t obsolete, it becomes useless in the consumers’ eyes. “Disposing of e-waste in landfills has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts,” says California Department of Toxic Substance Control. Therefore it is essential that e-waste is disposed in the proper manner not only for environmental sake but for health reasons as well.

First step in E-waste recycling is determining the viability of the electronic itself. If the electronic still functions; perhaps it’s best to sell it on Craigslist or Ebay. Another option for e-waste owner is to donate to charities like Salvation Army, local charities that offer dropoff locations or even freecycler. A tax credit  or feeling like a do-gooder may be offered in lieu of payment. Companies like Circuit City, Hewlett Packard, Best Buy and Apple offer trade-in option for working and useable electronics which can help offset purchases for new electronics.

For electronic that no longer fuctions, Helen Coronato offers e-waste solutions in her book, Eco-friendly Families. First step is determing if the e-waste is recycleable. Coronato gives many resources for families to seeking out that e-cycling info. According to Coronato, many manufacturers offers an easy way for consumers to recycle their old electronic by taking back their old product. If that option doesn’t exist, the next step is to find a recycling center that does.

E-Cycling Central offers consumers information on electronic donation programs across the US. Coronado encourages consumers who can’t recycle through the manufacturer to check out this website. This resource also offers tips on asking the right questions to recycling centers which can range from identity theft to incineration percentages.

Earth 911 helps consumers find recycling centers by materials and also by location. Just type in what you are trying to recycle and your nearest location; presto, the nearest drop center is located.

Common items that can be recycled

Batteries: Alltel, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, Black & Decker, Cingular Wireless, The Home Depot, RadioShack, Sears, Staples, Target, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods will accept one time use batteries. Consumers can also call 1-800-8-BATTERY to locate the nearest retail that will accept them as well.

Cellphone: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Best Buy, Office Depot and Sprint takes back old any cellphones. Sprint offers a bonus to their customer by offering credit for their old Sprint phones. LG, Nokia, Sony Ericcson, Motorola and Samsung offers prepaid postage that can be printed off their website to be shipped directly to them.

CFL: IKEA, Lowes and Home Depot are the biggest retailers that take back used CFLs. Ace Hardware offers CFL recycling at select locations.

Computers: Dell, Apple, HP, will accept their old computers. They might even offer credit based on computer’s functionality. Best Buy will accept any used computer to be recycled. Toshiba also offers an electronic trade-in program which consumers can exchange their old products for cash. For items with no cash value, Toshiba will recycle for free using prepaid shipping label.

TV: Best Buy will take a television that is less than 32″. They will take away television from your home for a fee for TVs bigger than 32″.  Also check with MRM Recycling, also known as Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company who works with leading electronic manufacturers to bring local e-waste cycling programs throughout the US.  “MRM only utilizes recyclers, whose practices comply with all applicable laws, including but not limited to adequate record keeping, tracking the fate of recycled materials and provisions for reuse/refurbishment and financial assurances.”

If all else fails, contact your local recycling center for nearest drop off location.  With wealth of resources and many companies that take back old appliances, there is no excuse to not recycle old electronics. We can list the toxins and the environmental hazard (not to include health hazard) of each appliance, but we don’t want to bore you to death. For additional information, visit EPA ecycling for all the geekery you can ever want. Although not comprehensive, we hope that this simple and short list can help you get started on E-cycling.


Electronic Hazardous Waste {CA.gov}

Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products? {EPA}

Eco-friendly Families, Helen Coronato

Image credit: Brian Fitzgerald via Flickr under CCL

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