Frustrated with the lack of simple electronics recycling?
Consumers guide to electronics recycling
We all have old electronics stored in our basements or closets waiting for the day we can easily recycle them. One can spend all day figuring out where to take e-waste, and once a recycling center is found, there is no guarantee that it will be safely recycled. Up to 80% of U.S. e-waste is exported to developing countries where toxic components are burned, dumped or smashed apart by impoverished workers and children without proper protection or sent to U.S. prisons where inmates work without federally protected health, safety or labor rights. Only 10% of unwanted and obsolete computers are recycled responsibly.
1st Step: Send your old equipment back to the electronics companies!
Because of consumer demand, electronics companies are slowly but surely offering to recycle their old products. Dell, HP and Apple all have take-back policies that allow you to send back your old equipment when you buy a new product. Before buying a computer, you may want to look into which companies offer take-back. Dell, for instance, will take back any computer (regardless of the maker) when you buy a Dell.
2nd Step: Pick from SVTC’s List of Responsible Recyclers!
If the maker of your electronics will not take back their product, pick from SVTC’s Responsible Recyclers List. There are a growing number of recyclers who have signed a pledge to end the practice of shipping e-waste to prisons or developing countries and who are creating clean, local solutions to the e-waste problem. Both the Basel Action Network and Computer TakeBack Campaign have been part of creating this list for use by consumers and businesses alike
Last Resort: Ensuring a Private Recycler is Responsible
If not on the SVTC approved list, question the recycler on issues listed on the responsible recycler’s pledge. If you cannot get a direct answer, they are probably exporting. Beware of collection events and recycling fairs and ask if the recycler processes on site. If not, they are likely to export, contributing to the global e-waste crisis. Whatever you do, avoid throwing out electronics in the trash. This is illegal in many states.
Learn about the Electronics Recycling Process
Because electronics are made with nearly 1,000 chemicals and designed in such a way that they are difficult to take apart, they are nearly impossible to recycle. To learn more about the materials recovered during recycling, plastic recycling and how your electronics get recycled.
State E-Waste & Recycling Laws are Not All the Same
Just about any place in the U.S. has sponsored an electronics collection event, and many states are now trying to solve the complex e-waste puzzle. Policies have come out banning most electronic products from landfills, others have put a consumer tax on electronic products for the cost of their disposal and others require electronics companies to pay for recycling. Washington and Maine have recently passed the most extensive e-waste bills in the country. Learn the laws and pending legislation in your area.
Take it Back, Make it Clean, Recycle Responsibly!
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy that is being used in parts of the world such as Japan and Europe, which includes electronics, as well as many other products including cars! EPR requires electronics companies to take responsibility for the effects of their products; from the materials used to the production, to their disposal. EPR is a solution that pushes companies to eliminate toxins from their products and production facilities, take their products back after consumers are done with them and reuse the materials from their recycling. This protects workers and the environment through the entire life span of an electronic product. Some companies have already committed to an EPR approach and offer to take back your computers and others.