Minimizing Electronic Waste

by Stephanie

It’s important to use caution when recycling electronics such as computers, batteries, cell phones, televisions, etc., because they contain harmful parts that can cause damage the environment. Toxic components include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, polybrominated flame Retardants, barium and lithium. When these electronics are improperly disposed, like being burned at a landfill, they cause not only serious risks to our environment and animals, but also can cause severe health risks to the human population.

According to The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. currently is in the lead for being the giant contributor of e-waste into the environment loading 9.4 million tons in 2012. It’s expected by the UN, that by 2017 the worldwide e-waste accumulation will grow to approximately 65.4 million metric tons.
In order for hazardous electronic materials to be properly recycled they have to go through a specific and critical process. They have to be detoxified, or removed of all chemical components that aren’t safe, then they are shredded down even further to filter out more toxins, and lastly they are refined to be reused and sold.

What can we do to help lower electronic waste accumulation?

You might wonder what is considered recyclable and what isn’t. Grow NYC has made a recent effort to help recycling efforts by providing special bins for rechargeable batteries and cell phones. Grow NYC listed the following as recyclable: Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn), Small Sealed Lead* (Pb) and All Cellphones. [No alkaline, lithium, non-rechargeable or wet-cell batteries.]

The city of New York also urges the population to recycle these electronics responsibly.  They urge those to become involved with free take-back and reuse programs for unwanted electronics. NYC apartment buildings are eligible to become involved in e-cycle NYC, which helps provide a free and easy service to those wanting to get rid of unwanted or broken electronics.

Earth Day is right around the corner, so in the months of March and April, there are many recycling events in the New York area that you can check out in your nearby community. These events help provide growing awareness of proper recycling techniques to help keep our environment safe and clean!

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