As technology advances, I have seen more monitors, computers, televisions, and other electronic equipment left at the end of driveways or in trash cans waiting to hitch a ride to the nearest landfill. According to the EPA, only twelve percent of electronic equipment is recycled.
The sad part is the nearest landfill could be a third world country. A couple of days ago, I wrote an article about GreenDisk, the producers of the technotrash can, which you can use to dispose of electronic media, and certain electronic equipment. My decision to team up with GreenDisk was due to my reading of a Mother Earth article, which showed a picture of a cherub Chinese child on top of a mountain of our electronic waste.
It was deeply disturbing.
Please watch this shortened version of a video produced by Basel Action Network about what happens to our electronic equipment after it is shipped to third world countries.
Ideas to Prevent Electronics from Entering the Waste Stream
Here are some other ideas on how to prevent your electronic equipment from entering the waste stream:
- Think of computer carpooling instead of curb side dumping. Form a neighbor group where you take turns going to your local or county recycling center to drop off computer electronic equipment.
- Take your own computers and televisions back to their manufacturers. Many electronic companies are either taking back their computers for free or for a fee. Such fee based companies may waive the fee if you buy another piece of equipment from them or give you a credit towards a future sale instead. See a list created by the Electronic TakeBack Coalition.
- Find a responsible recycler for your electronic equipment. According to the Electronic Take Back Coalition there are many recyclers who simply remove the valuable metals from the equipment and send the rest to either a landfill or incinerator.In addition, many workers do not receive adequate protection to prevent their exposure to chemical compounds, which are hazardous to their health.
“We may think we’re doing the right thing by giving our old electronics to a ‘recycler’ or a free collection event,” said Sarah Westervelt, BAN’s e-Stewardship Program Director. ‘But most of those businesses calling themselves recyclers are little more than international waste distributors. They take your old equipment for free, or pocket your recycling fee, and then simply load it into a sea-going container, and ship it to China, India or Nigeria,” in a joint press release issued by the Basal Action Network and the Electronic TakeBack Coalition.
The press release further states:
“Consumers are urged to avoid recyclers not on this list including free e-waste collection events that do not state that they only use e-Stewards recyclers.
“We strongly urge all consumers to avoid all but those recyclers that have qualified as e-Stewards. If your local recycler has not qualified for the program, ask them to do so. Otherwise while trying to do the right thing with recycling, you can unwittingly become a player in a global digital dumping game, and end up poisoning those in developing countries,”
- Think Reuse rather than Recycle for computers and their associated equipment that are less than 5 years old.Many of these computers still have a life. See Share the Technology as to places where to donate your computers such as a school or not for profit.In addition, check out the National Christina Foundation, which coordinates donations with recipients throughout the world. Note, that the Foundation will only take computers that meet their requirements.
- Another resource is Global Crisis Solution Center, which lists several organizations all over the world. However, the links has not been updated since 2006, so you are bound to get some bad links or ones that you may need to go the home site to find the right link. In Canada, the Electronic Recycling Association donates used computers and its equipments to various charities. See information about pick-up services for businesses in Canada, US, and UK, and drop-off locations in Canada.
- For working televisions and other electronic equipment, check the Electronic industrial Alliance to find out reuse, recycle, or donation programs. (Note, many states on this list may only have recycling programs.) Check with your local Goodwill, local charity, local senior center, teen centers, or old age home. In addition, either sell or offer your electronics for free on Freecycle or CraigsList.
- Check out Earth 911 for recycling information.
- See the EPA list of plug-in partners for electronic recycling. Some of the more common names on the plug-in list are Staples, Office Depot, and Wal-Mart.Check before you go to see what else they may recycle such as ink jet print cartridges and cell phones.
- Consider putting a box at the office, school, or a neighborhood function for people to drop off their small hand held electronics.Someone can volunteer and take them to any plug-in partner or other company or government agency that recycles electronic waste. See approved recyclers above.
- Follow the sport’s agent Leigh Steinberg’s lead, and have an e-box available at your Super bowl party! (He is the agent whose life was the inspiration for the movie, Jerry Maguire.) See story on Earth 911.
Join the Conversation:
Do you have any other ideas? Please share. Our electronic indulgences should not be third world countries’ responsibilities.
Would you want your children to live among such waste?