When we think of recycling, we generally think aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and newspaper. It’s not as often that we think of old TVs, outdated computers, mystery cords stashed in the junk drawer or the cell phone that was dropped in the sink and ruined. But, following the principle of “reduce, reuse, recycle” is just as important with electronics as it is with office paper, soda bottles and plastic packaging.
First, work on ways to reduce your consumption of electronics. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to buy your child an electronic toy or upgrade your cellphone to the newest model. Electronics companies spend millions to sell us the idea that we need to race to buy the newest gadget and these companies often design their products with short lifespans to ensure that we keep buying.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American replaces their cellphone every 22 months, which produced 150 million old phones in 2010 alone. Try to slow your consumption and think about the products you buy.
Before you buy something new, find out what kind of manufacturer take-back program the company has. Many major electronics companies allow you to send electronics back to them to be refurbished and resold or recycled. You can also contact the customer service departments of companies and let them know you would like to see products designed more sustainably.
If you can’t reduce the number of electronic items you buy, make sure that your old electronics are reused by someone else. Locally, WabiSabi is a great resource when finding a new home for working electronics. That old office printer might be outdated for you, but if it still works, it might be just the thing for a local nonprofit or a WabiSabi shopper.
You might also check thrift stores and classifieds before you buy something new to see if you could get a used one instead.
After finding ways to reduce consumption and reuse some electronics, send all other electronic waste to be recycled. Recycling electronics recovers valuable materials and as a result, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution, save energy, save space in the landfill, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. It is crucial to make sure that your electronics are not just recycled, but recycled responsibly.
The process of properly recycling electronics can be very labor-intensive and potentially hazardous. Often, old electronics are sent overseas, primarily to China, and members of impoverished communities burn, melt, or chemically treat old electronics without adequate health and safety measures.
To ensure that your dead batteries and e-waste do not end up as a burden to people in other countries, it is best to take your items to an e-Stewards certified recycler. The e-Stewards certification guarantees that hazardous items are not shipped overseas and that all demanufacturing is done in the USA while observing safe labor and environmental standards.
According to EPA data, Americans throw away as much as 4.5 million tons of electronic waste 165,000 tons of alkaline batteries each year. These items end up in landfills and the potential to recover materials is lost. When taken to a reputable recycler and properly disassembled into plastics, glass and different types of metals, 95-percent of materials can be sent back into the manufacturing process.
We don’t know exactly how much of the electronic and battery waste in Moab is thrown into the trash or stashed away in closet or garages. We do know that members of the Moab community have kept an impressive 37,500 pounds of electronic waste and 750 pounds of batteries out of the landfill by participating in the Electronic Waste & Alkaline Battery Recycling Drives since the first one in May of 2011.
The November 2013 E-Waste & Battery Drive will be 9 a.m. to 2 pm., Saturday, Nov. 2 at WabiSabi Thriftique at 411 Locust Ln. We will be working with Metech Recycling of Salt Lake City, which holds the state contract for electronic recycling and has been awarded the e-Stewards certification.
Please stop by and responsibly recycle that old cellphone, broken toaster, bad printer, tangled jumble of chargers that don’t belong to anything, and any other once-loved electronics that you just don’t want anymore and aren’t sure what to do with.
For more information on what is collected, approximate prices or to arrange business pick up, please contact CCR at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-210-4996 or visit www.moabrecycles.org