Online Resource Offers Tips on Recycling Old Electronics
Just in time to maintain your newest electronic gadgets and to safely dispose of the old, Consumer Reports (CR) has launched www.GreenerChoices.org, an online Electronics Reuse and Recycling Center.
The online E-waste center features thoroughly researched, unbiased, expert advice to help de-clutter your home and solve the huge and growing problem of electronics waste. It also features the results of a March 2006 nationwide, online survey, including information about why people replace their electronics and what they did with their old equipment.
“Tossing millions of computers, cell phones and TVs into landfills can pose serious environmental and health risks,” states Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Senior Scientist for Consumer Reports. “But the good news is that most electronic components can now be reused, recycled, and diverted from the waste stream, if consumers have the right information –that’s where our new online E-waste center can really help.”
According to CR’s survey results, about three in ten consumers replaced their computers last year. Of these, about half did so because the computer was too slow. Nearly two in ten consumers that disposed of a desktop computer or monitor in the last year threw them in the trash.
In addition, about four in ten consumers replaced their cell phones last year and two in ten consumers threw their old cell phones in the trash. Two in ten consumers replaced their TVs in the last year and three in ten consumers who discarded a TV threw it in the trash.
Other key findings from the survey: Most online consumers want manufacturers to be responsible for paying to recycle what they produce and most also want manufacturers to design products so that they are easier to recycle and refurbish.
The Center provides step-by-step advice for keeping new electronics running longer and environmental and money-saving solutions for disposing of electronic equipment in ways that won’t harm the environment. CR’s advice includes:
–Where to donate or sell equipment in your neighborhood and E-cycling programs from computer manufacturers.
–How to recycle rechargeable cell phone batteries. To keep heavy metals out of landfills, look for recyclers that have taken the new “Electronics Recycler’s Pledge.” A searchable map is provided at the E-waste center.
–Why you should recycle your electronics. Electronic equipment contains toxic materials, including lead, cadmium, and mercury, that may seriously pollute the soil and ground water when deposited in landfills. For example, computer and television monitors with cathode ray tubes (CRTs) contain, on average, four to eight pounds of lead, a highly toxic heavy metal. The EPA says electronic products are the largest single source of lead in municipal solid waste. (Latest estimates indicate that nearly 3 million tons of consumer electronic waste was generated in 2003 alone.) Cell phone batteries, particularly older ones, may contain toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium.
–When it pays to fix your equipment yourself. For example, many people don’t realize they can upgrade their computer’s storage space using tools right on the computer to free up space on the hard drive. If your cell phone battery isn’t holding a charge, simply getting a new battery may fix the problem.
–When it’s worth it to pay for repairs. For example, large TVs and models less than 6 years old often can be repaired in a cost-effective way.
–How to protect your identity. Before you dispose of equipment, there are ways to erase identifiable information.
GreenerChoices.org, launched on Earth Day 2005 by the nonprofit Consumers Union, is a Web-based initiative to inform, engage, and empower consumers about environmentally friendly products and practices. It offers consumers an accessible, reliable, and practical source of information on buying greener products that have minimal environmental impact and yet meet their personal needs.