March 19, 2009

E-Waste, Please Recycle Me

A friend of ours stopped by last night for a visit, she had a tale to tell that wasn’t all to uncommon for this part of the country (Arizona). Last fall during one of monsoon storms a lightning strike struck a power pole near her home causing the power to be out for several hours. For one reason or another our local power company never repaired her pole before switching power on to full capacity, which in turn caused all electrical plugs in the house to malfunction. Power strips were melted and all electrical devices (TV’s, DVR’s microwave, radios, etc.) were fried. She was very lucky to arrive home in time to throw the breakers before her whole house went up in flames. Her next problem came when she tried to get rid of, or recycle the electronic equipment. She said, “It took some time, but I finally found a place”.
I had two thoughts;
1)What is in these electronics that can possibly be so bad that no one wants to take them ?
2)Where do I take them and why is it so hard to get rid of them when they are everywhere you look?

Electronics to be recycled are called e-waste.
Old televisions contain up to 8 pounds of lead, which was supposed to protect the viewer from radiation so most landfills will not take them.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 82 percent of televisions (20.6 million units) were disposed of between 2006 and 2007 – and that occurred primarily in landfills. This means only 18%, or about 6.3 million sets, were recycled.”

It is reported that Americans throw out 130,000 computers every day, most of which almost all is recyclable. A circuit board contains copper, gold, silver, platinum and palladium, as well as lead. These are all chemical elements that when broken down or recycled should be worth money. Other components include glass and plastic. Printer cartridges also do not belong the landfill. Certain kinds of toner dust contains a hazardous material, as do inks used in inkjet printers. And don’t forget about the extras like keyboards, speakers, mice, cables, etc. You may even ask questions like; Where do you sent the parts to be recovered and what do you do with the materials? Do you wipe the data clean or can you give me information so I can do it.

VCR’s, DVD players and stereos fall into the groups above, all containing chemical elements, plastic, metal, etc. All of which can and should be recycled.

Two web sites I found to be very useful were:
This is the Waste Management site which gives lots of info recycling Do’s & Dont's.
You type in what you need to recycle, where you live and it will give you all the closest places with address and phone numbers.

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  1. Unfortunately, most areas don't have a place for these items. I think there are places you can "send" them to, but can you imagine the cost?!

  2. Check out
    I was surprised to find all the different places in my area that take different items. You can also check with your local trash company, a lot of times they have special pick-ups once a month or so.

  3. I will do that.
    Of course, I keep everything until it's on its last limb! Hee!Hee!