Did You Know?
Americans have discarded up to 154 million computers in the past 20 years. Where do they all go? Unfortunately, many have ended up in landfills. Be sure to keep your old electronics out of landfills!
Why Recycle Electronics?
The Electronics Pile-Up
If you have an obsolete computer or two in your basement, you’re not alone. Nearly 2 million tons of used electronics, including computers and televisions, are discarded each year. An estimated 128 million cell phones are retired from use annually.
With an ample supply of newer, faster electronic products on the market, Americans continually replace older models. This trend shows no signs of slowing. As a result, electronics have become one of the fastest growing “waste streams” or portions of our trash.
Benefits of Electronics Recycling
There are many good reasons to recycle or reuse old electronics, instead of sending them to landfills.
Conserves natural resources – Valuable material can be recovered from old electronics, and these materials can be used to make new products. For example, precious metals are used in computer circuit boards and other electronic components, and of course glass and plastics
are used for TV and computer monitors. Recycling these products reduces the need to mine the earth for new raw materials.
Supports the community- Donating your old electronics supports schools, low-income families, and non-profit agencies by providing them with refurbished computers, cell phones, and other electronics. Individuals are helped by being able to access technology that they could not otherwise afford. Check with these groups first to make sure your equipment meets their needs.
Creates jobs locally – As demand for electronics recycling grows, new businesses will be forming and existing companies will be looking to hire more people to staff their facilities to recover recyclable materials (more than 90% of electronic equipment is recyclable!).
Protect Public Health and the Environment
Most electronics contain hazardous or toxic materials which can cause an environmental problem if discarded in the trash. Safely recycling and reusing electronics helps keep substances like lead and mercury from harming people or the environment.
- Computer monitors and televisions are hazardous because they contain significant amounts of lead (an average of four pounds of lead each).
- Printed circuit boards contain hazardous metals such as lead, chromium, cadmium and mercury, with significant variation depending on the board.
- Batteries in electronic and electrical products may contain lead, mercury and cadmium.
- Mercury-containing components like switches and relays are found in some electronic and electrical products, including the popular flat screen monitors.